Libya announces ceasefire, allies prepare new strikes | Pakistan Today

Libya announces ceasefire, allies prepare new strikes

TRIPOLI – US, British and French forces hammered Libya from the air and sea, prompting leader Moamer Gaddafi to warn Sunday of a long war in the Mediterranean “battlefield” as Tripoli reported dozens of deaths. However, a Libyan military spokesman later in the night announced a new ceasefire in the campaign against a military uprising.
The US military said the first stage of coalition raids under a UN Security Council remit to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya had been “successful” and Gaddafi’s offensive on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi stopped in its tracks. In Benghazi itself, medics and media said at least 94 people had died in an assault launched on Friday on the Mediterranean city by forces loyal to Gaddafi before the coalition onslaught.
In the West’s biggest intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, mounted exactly eight years earlier, US warships and a British submarine fired more than 120 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya on Saturday, the US military said.
Top US military commander Michael Mullen said the initial part of the coalition’s campaign “has been successful,” and the US and allied forces have effectively established a no-fly zone over Libya, and that Gaddafi’s forces “are no longer marching on Benghazi”. Mullen said the immediate goal of the coalition’s intervention in Libya is to protect civilians with a no-fly zone, not to try to oust strongman Gaddafi.
And Admiral William Gortney told reporters at the Pentagon that the cruise missiles “struck more than 20 integrated air defence systems and other air defence facilities ashore”. Nineteen US planes, including three B2 stealth bombers, took part in early morning raids Sunday, the Germany-based US Africa Command said.
Command spokesman Kenneth Fidler said F15 and F16 fighters were used in the raids on Libyan “integrated air defence systems,” and he put the number of Tomahawk missiles fired by the US and Britain on Saturday at 124. In dawn raids, B-2 stealth bombers dropped 40 bombs on a major Libyan airfield in an attempt to destroy much of the Libyan Air Force, other US military officials said.
On the ground, AFP correspondents and rebels said dozens of Libyan government military vehicles, including tanks, were destroyed on Sunday morning in air strikes west of Benghazi. The bodies of African fighters in khaki-coloured uniforms could be seen amid a pile of smashed up tanks and burned artillery cannons at a site 35 kilometres from Benghazi, the sources said.
Gaddafi defiant: Gaddafi, whose country insists the attacks came despite its announced ceasefire, said on Sunday that all Libyans were armed and ready to fight until victory against what Tripoli has branded a barbaric aggression. “We promise you a long, drawn-out war with no limits,” said the Libyan leader, who was speaking on the state television for a second straight day without appearing in front of camera.
The leaders of Britain, France and the US will “fall like Hitler… Mussolini,” warned the strongman of oil-rich Libya who has ruled for four decades but been confronted with an armed uprising since mid-February. “America, France, or Britain, the Christians that are in a pact against us today, they will not enjoy our oil,” he said.
“We do not have to retreat from the battlefield because we are defending our land and our dignity.” Meanwhile, bombs were dropped near the Tripoli headquarters of Gaddafi early Sunday, prompting barrages of anti-aircraft fire from Libyan forces, an AFP reporter said.
The bombs exploded as an aircraft overflew the Bab al-Aziziyah headquarters in the south of Tripoli. Reports pouring in from Tripoli said thousands of Libyans packed into Gaddafi’s heavily fortified Tripoli compound on Saturday to form a human shield against possible air strikes by allied forces.

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