US President Barack Obama, speaking during a visit to Brazil, said the US was taking “limited military action” as part of a “broad coalition”.
“We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy,” he said.
He repeated that no US ground troops would take part.
After the missile bombardment and the air strikes, Col Gaddafi made a brief speech calling on people to resist.
“Civilian and military targets in the air and sea will be liable to serious danger in the Mediterranean,” he said.
“Arms depots are now open and the masses are being equipped with all sorts of weapons in defence of Libya’s independence, unity and honour,” the Libyan leader warned.
Later, state TV said 48 people were killed and 150 wounded in the attacks. There was no independent confirmation of the statement……
Despite the fact that it was French war planes which launched the first attacks, it’s clear that this early phase of the operations is an overwhelmingly American affair – all but a very small number of cruise missiles have been fired from American ships and submarines.
Only they have the capability to inflict the sort of damage to Libya’s air defences that’s needed before a no-fly zone can be safely patrolled, a point alluded to by President Obama even as he repeated the limits of American involvement.
President Obama has launched these attacks with great reluctance and seems anxious that this not be interpreted as yet another American-led foray into the Arab world.
But for all his desire to be seen to take a back seat, he and everyone else knows that this sort of thing doesn’t happen unless Washington is deeply involved…..
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