Uh Oh: U.S. Launches 110 Missiles Against Libya
This…was not a go(o)d idea…
President Barack Obama authorized limited military action against Libya Saturday, saying Moammar Gadhafi’s continued assault on his own people left the U.S. and its international partners with no other choice. The Pentagon said it fired 110 cruise missiles at 20 targets along the Libyan coast.
Obama said military action was not his first choice.
“This is not an outcome the U.S. or any of our partners sought,” Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.”
A senior military official said the U.S. missiles were launched from Navy vessels in the Mediterranean. The official said the assault would unfold in stages and target air defense installations around Tripoli, the capital, and a coastal area south of Benghazi, the rebel stronghold.
Obama declared once again that the United States would not send ground forces to Libya, though he said he is “deeply aware” of the risks of taking any military action.
Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, director of the U.S. military’s Joint Staff, said no U.S. aircraft were flying over Libya at this time and no U.S. forces were on the ground.
Libyan TV claimed that earlier airstrikes by French jet fighters had hit civilian areas in Tripoli, but the report couldn’t be independently confirmed, The Associated Press reported. The news agency also reported ambulances were rushing to “civilian casualties” in Tripoli, Reuters reported.
Earlier, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said allied air forces had gone into action over Libya and were preventing Gadhafi’s forces from attacking the rebel city of Benghazi.
A French official said a French fighter jet had fired on a Libyan military vehicle, in the first reported strike in the international campaign to enforce a no-fly zone. Overall, at least four Libyan tanks were destroyed in French attack, Al Jazeera reported.
French Defense Ministry spokesman Thierry Burkhard said the the initial air attack was reported around 1645 GMT Saturday (12:45 pm ET), and that no hostile fire on French jets had been reported.
France sent a dozen Mirage and Rafale jets Saturday to survey the one-time opposition stronghold of Benghazi and the 150 kilometer-by-100 kilometer no-fly zone, Burkhard said.
“All aircraft that enter into this zone could be shot down,” he said.
The strike came less than two hours after top officials from the United States, Europe and the Arab world agreed in Paris to launch a risky military operation to protect civilians from attacks by Gadhafi’s forces.
It also came after Libyan government forces attacked Benghazi earlier Saturday, apparently ignoring a proclaimed cease-fire.
“Our planes are already preventing air attacks on the city,” Sarkozy said adding that military action could be halted if Gadhafi stopped his forces.
“Our determination is total,” the French leader said.
Asked if the aim of the military intervention was to overthrow Gadhafi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Paris for the meeting about Libya, did not answer the question directly but said the aim of Western powers was to protect civilians.
“If the international community is to have credibility … then action must take place,” Clinton told a news conference.
Clinton added that “we have every reason to fear that left unchecked, Gadhafi will commit unspeakable atrocities.”