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US claims early success in Libyan offensive

France, the United States and Britain used cruise missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean to target Libyan air defences into early Sunday morning following the launch of military action on Saturday to enforce a UN no-fly zone.

  • Coalition strikes have succeeded in halting the advance of Gaddafi's troops on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and a no-fly zone is now in place over Libya with government air defences "taken out" and no sign of Libyan aircraft in flight, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, told NBC. The initial part of Operation "Odyssey Dawn" has been successful, he added.
  • The US, Britain and France pounded Libya with Tomahawk missiles and air strikes into the early hours of Sunday, sparking fury from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who declared the Mediterranean to be a "battlefield".
  • French planes fired the first shots on Saturday to force Gaddafi's troops to cease fire and end attacks on civilians. The warplanes destroyed tanks and armoured vehicles in the region of the rebels' eastern stronghold, Benghazi. American warships and a British submarine fired at least 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya, the US military said.
  • According to Libyan state television, at least 48 people have been killed and 150 wounded in the allied air strikes. It also reported a fresh wave of strikes on Tripoli early on Sunday.
  • Operation "Odyssey Dawn"  is the biggest Western intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. It comes two days after a UN Security Council resolution with Arab backing authorised military intervention to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya aimed at preventing Gaddafi's forces from crushing a popular uprising against his 41-year autocratic rule.


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