Friday, March 18, 2011

UN Security Council approves no-fly zone and attacks against Gaddafi´s forces

Burned out tank of the pro-Gaddafi forces in the streets of Misrata

The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution on Thursday evening authorising a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizing member states to take ´all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.´
Ten members of the Security Council voted  in favour, there were no votes against and five abstained: uding China, Russia and th non-permanent members Germany, India and Brazil. The resolution fulfills urgent requests by the pro-democracy opposition forces in Libya for a no-fly zone. The draft of the resolution was prepared by the United Kingdom, France and Lebanon. In the hours ahead of the meeting the United States appeared to have changed its stance by also actively backing calls for strikes against Libyan military targets that could be mobilised against civilians.
The adoption of the resolution came just a few hours after Gaddafi warned residents of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi that his forces would show ´no mercy´ in an impending assault on the city and that whoever did not surrender or stayed in his house, woud be made a corpse to be eaten by dogs.

 Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said there was not much time left for the international community to act. He said it was a question of hours,  because the pressure, especially against Benghazi, was ´very tough´.
On Thursday Gaddafi's forces used tanks and artillery to try to retake the city of Misrata, the last big rebel stronghold in western Libya, residents said. But rebel fighters in Misrata, on the Mediterranean coast about 200 km east of Tripoli, said they had stalled a ground attack on the city and seized some tanks. In Ajdabiya, a city on the way to Benghazi, the fusghting was aslo still going on. Libyan soldiers said they had met resistance from rebels when they fought for control of the town. But Gaddafi´s forces were definitely on their way to Benghazi. Reuters photographer Ahmed Jadallah said he saw a number of tanks deployed along the coastal road as well as tank carriers returning empty from the frontline.

Four journalists of the New York Times are reported missing in East Libya.The last time they were in contact with their paper was on Tuesday morning. At that time they were near Ajdabiyah. The four include Stephen Farrell, who was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2009 and rescued by British commandos, and Anthony Shadid, the paper's Beirut bureau chief and a two-time Pullitzer Prize winner. Two  photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, are also missing.

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