News Brief – March 19, 2011
Its been announced that U.S. warships and a British submarine have fired 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libyan military sites.
Their targets are reported to have included surface-to-air missile sites and radar installations, both of which would need to be rendered inoperable if the no-fly zone is to be imposed.
An international coalition led by France and Britain together with several Arab allies have agreed to work together to establish a no-fly zone.
A total of 20 air defence systems on or near the Libyan coast have been struck so far, said a Pentagon spokesman.
The British submarine that took part in the operation has been stationed in the Mediterranean for some time without being detected.
Announcing the start of the operation, British strategic communications officer Major General John Lorimer said “The UK has launched guided Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) from a Trafalgar Class submarine … this is the first stage”.
Earlier 20 French fighters launched air strikes at Libyan forces closing in on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Tanks and armoured vehicles used by pro-Gaddafi forces were reported hit.
As the British spokesman said however, this is only “the first stage” and more strikes are expected to follow.
For its part Libyan TV reported that air attacks by the “crusader army” hit civilian areas in Tripoli and fuel storage tanks.
Action against Gaddafi has drawn wide support after he began launching strikes against Libyans rebelling against 42-year long rule.
Apart from Britain, France and the U.S., which have been involved thus far, Canada, Denmark, Spain, Norway and the United Arab Emirates have all pledged to assist.
While Italy said it would permit the use of airbases to launch sorties against Libya.
The action follows a continued offensive by pro-Gaddafi forces despite Libyans claims that it would abide by a ceasefire.