Report: Eman Al-Obeidi gets married

Eman Al-Obeidi’s fiancee has spoken earlier on Al Jazeera saying that he was already engaged to her and that they have performed the marriage ceremony with the Shiekh. Although she was not present, and her whereabouts remain unknown, Eman’s fiancee and family arranged this ceremony in her honor (See note below).

He also stated that he was proud to be married to Eman. His name is Faraj Ghaithi. The families had an understanding that they will be married in the future.

Below is a video of the celebrations that took place. The women are chanting “Oh Eman oh Eman, we put your picture in the square” They are showing that they support her.

Flashing the car’s taillights and honking the horn indicate a joyous occasion. This tradition takes place during weddings in many Arab countries.

Her fiancee, Faraj is shown at 0:22.

Al-Aan channel which interviewed Eman’s cousin, also called Tobruk, Eman’s home town to confirm that the marriage ceremony did take place.

Eman’s fiancee, Faraj Ghaithi

Note:

An Islamic marriage ceremony can take place with representatives from both sides (from the bride and groom) to give their consent. It is understood that Eman has previously agreed to marry Faraj, and that there was an ‘understanding’ between the two families.

Translation will be posted shortly

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: No fly zone over Libya appears to be entering fourth night in Tripoli

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. You can also click on our links to the Right to follow the latest Live Libya Blogs and featured twitters. On the Go? -Follow us on Twitter @Feb17Libya for the same live updates.

All updates are in Libyan local time.

That’s it for Live Coverage on March 22, 2011. — stay tuned on the homepage for Live Updates  on March 23.

 

2:05AM: Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught in Tripoli says Gaddafi’s televised address may not have been broadcast live as state TV runs a lot of recycled material, and no busloads of foreign journalists were brought to his palace to witness the event.

2:02AM: The UN is preparing to bring more aid into Libya. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards says the agency will send truckloads of goods to Benghazi on Wednesday, including 5,000 blankets and 5,000 sleeping mats. ”Providing humanitarian assistance under current circumstances is very challenging,” he said.”There are reported shortages of medical supplies and basic commodities in the eastern part of the country, with prices having increased dramatically.” The UN World Food Programme plans to move 19 tons of lentils and 11 tons of vegetable oil in the next two days from Egypt into eastern Libya.

1:46AM: Here is a screen grab from Muammar Gaddafi’s appearance this evening on Libyan State TV at his in Bab El Azizi complex near Tripoli:

 

1:13AM: The Dutch government has said it will deploy six F-16 fighter jets, a refueling plane and a navy minesweeper to help enforce the arms embargo against Libya. The defense minister, Hans Hillen, said the F-16s would be available within a few days while the minesweeper, HMS Haarlem, already is in the Mediterranean.

1:05AM: Col Gaddafi’s words earlier today purportedly in front of his damaged Bab Al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli: “I do not fear storms that sweep the horizon, nor do I fear the planes that throw black destruction. I am resistant, my house is here in my tent […] I am the rightful owner, and the creator of tomorrow. I, I am here! I am here! I am here!”.

12:48AM: Barack Obama will cut short his trip to Latin America by two hours to fly home early to meet with his security team about the conflict in Libya, the White House says, according to AFP.

12:38AM: Hillary Clinton says people purporting to represent Col Gaddafi have been in contact with US officials. “A lot of it is just the way he behaves. It’s somewhat unpredictable. But some of it, we think, is exploring. You know, what are my options? where could I go? what could I do? And we would encourage that, their options,” she tells ABC news.

12:23AM: Hillary Clinton says that though she heard reports that one of Col Gaddafi’s sons had been killed, the “evidence is not sufficient” to confirm this. She told ABC that it was not US forces that would have killed him.

12:17AM:The US president says the Libyan people face potential threats from Col Gaddafi if he remains in power. Unless Col Gaddafi is willing to step down, “there are still going to be potential threats toward the Libyan people,” he says, Reuters report.

12:11AM: U.S. Secretary of State Clinton tells ABC that U.S. believes Gaddafi may be exploring exile options, but unclear if he is serious.

12:07AM: Germany is withdrawing ships and air crews in the Mediterranean Sea from various long-running Nato operations following the military alliance’s decision to enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya, according to the Associated Press news agency. Berlin isn’t participating in the operation to impose a no-fly zone in Libya and abstained on the U.N. resolution authorizing it.

11:58PM: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vows to continue the fighting, confident that they will win in the end. “We will be victorious in the end,” Col Gaddafi said in remarks broadcast live on television.  The Libyan people are Libya’s “air defence” says Muammar Gaddafi in his address, infront of a crowd gathered at his fortified Tripoli compound, the BBC’s Monitoring Service reports. He also declared, “I am here, I am here”

11:55PM: A majority of French support the foreign military operations in Libya, according to the first poll carried out in France since operations started against Gaddafi’s forces on Saturday. According to the survey conducted by pollster IFOP, 66 per cent of those surveyed supported the intervention and there was no difference between left-wing or right-wing political streams.

11:38PM: The U.S.-led military mission in Libya has already saved lives in Benghazi, President Obama says. He also said he has “no doubt” US will be able to shift control of Libya mission to int’l coalition

11:11PM: Al Jazeera Arabic interviews the National Transitional Council head Abdul Jalil live: we appreciate Coalition forces, emphasize that they are here to protect Civilians not to occupy. He said that revolutionaries alone do not have necessary firepower to protect civilians and stop Gaddafi’s massacres.

10:47PM: Saudi Arabia has expressed its support for the military operation in Libya. The Saudis have moved to clamp down on protests in their own country, but they have been on bad terms with Col Gaddafi for years. UK Prime Minister David Cameron met Saudi Foreign Minister in London for talks on Tuesday. “Prince Saud expressed strong support for the aims of UNSCR 1973 [authorising the no-fly zone] and the steps being taken by the international community to enforce it,” Downing St said in a statement after the meeting.

10:42PM: The New York Times has more on the controversial circumstances in which the crew of a downed US fighter were extracted from eastern Libya. It quotes a Marine Corps officer as saying that two Harrier attack jets dropped two 500-pound bombs during the rescue of the pilot on Monday night.

The officer added that the grounded pilot, who was in contact with rescue crews in the air, asked for the bombs to be dropped as a precaution before the crews landed to pick him up. ”My understanding is he asked for the ordnance to be delivered between where he was located and where he saw people coming towards him,” the officer said. He added that the pilot evidently made the request “to keep what he thought was a force closing in on him from closing in on him.”

10:38PM: Concern is rising about the fate of the coastal Libyan city of Misratam, which remains under fire from pro-Gaddafi snipers and tanks. The US military said earlier today it was “considering all options” in response to conditions there that have left people cowering in darkened homes and scrounging for food and rainwater. However, opponents of the Gaddafi regime fear that Libya’s third largest city could go the way of Zawiya, near Tripoli, which was largely taken back by rebels after vicious fighting.

10:30PM: The US expects to see more Arab participation in the Libya operation over the coming days, Reuters reports, quoting an unnamed US official.

10:26PM:At least two of the aircraft promised by Qatar have now arrived in Cyprus. Qatar is so far the only Arab country to contribute to the military operation against Libya. The planes are headed for the base of Souda in Crete but had to make an unscheduled stop after struggling against high winds. The two Mirage 2000 jets and the C-17 cargo aircraft had to refuel in Cyprus, AP reports.

10:23PM: Sky News has reported that US military sources confirmed to Fox News that shots were fired during the rescue operation of US pilots whose plane crashed in eastern Libya on Monday night.

10:17PM: The Libyan regime is saying that it will release three journalists held in the country, the French news agency AFP is reporting. AFP journalists Dave Clark and Roberto Schmidt, as well as photographer Joe Raedle from Getty Images, were detained by Libyan forces on Saturday near Ajdabiya in the east of Libya.

10:11PM: Libyan state TV has said residents of Tripoli will respond to coalition bombing raids with fireworks, BBC Monitoring notes. The action is to emphasise that “this is not a way to hold dialogue between nations”, the TV report said.

9:58PM: We are getting more reports from Misrata. A witness there tells the BBC that pro-Gaddafi troops and “mercenaries” have set fire to a food storage unit near the motorway in the south of the city, where they have a stronghold. The report – like others from that area – cannot be independently verified.

9:54PM: Advocacy group the Committee to Protect Journalists says it has confirmed more than 50 attacks or attempts to silence the media since the Libyan unrest began in February. The toll includes two deaths and more than 30 detentions, it says.

9:51PM: More signs that the coalition is widening. Romania is to send a frigate to the Mediterranean to take part in a Nato arms embargo of Libya, President Traian Basescu is quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

9:48PM: David Cameron and Barack Obama believe Nato should play a “key role” in the military campaign in Libya and that “substantial progress” has been made in implementing the UN resolution, Downing Street said tonight after the leaders spoke by telephone. The US president won British and French support for a NATO role in the air campaign against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, according to a Reuters take on diplomatic moves today.


9:40PM
: Bursts of anti-aircraft fire across Tripoli heralded the start of an apparent fourth night of attacks shortly after 2015 local time on Tuesday, the Guardian’s Ian Black reports from the city.

He adds: “No aircraft or missiles were visible to the naked eye and traffic continued to move normally through the streets of the capital. State TV interrupted its regular broadcasts to report the start of the bombardment and show live pictures of tracer fire sending red tracer arcs across the sky.”

9:22pm: State-run Libyan TV has aired what it says is live coverage of the capital Tripoli coming under bombardment. The presenter said: “Tripoli is being bombarded now.” The channel split the screen and in one half showed the sky lit with fire and the sound of anti-aircraft fire could be heard.

9:17pm: President Obama has called UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy from Airforce One, the White House says. They “reviewed the substantial progress that has been made in terms of halting the advance of Gaddafi’s forces on Benghazi as well as the establishment of a no-fly zone”. They also agreed that “Nato should play a key role in the command structure going forward”.

Violent attacks from Gaddafi forces on civilian houses

 

9:02pm: The western city of Misrata came under heavy attack by Col Gaddafi’s forces on Tuesday, witnesses have told the BBC. Caller Mohammed in Misrata tells BBC World Have Your Say tanks and snipers were shooting in the morning. Four children died – a report which can’t be independently verified by the BBC. He also goes on to say “The people who have been killing in his city are not Libyan, but mercenaries”, and he says a number of them have been captured by rebels there. Libya.”

8:50pm: The countries in the no-fly zone coalition continue to discuss who should take command. The US is eager to hand over the lead, but Nato has not so far said it is willing to take over. President Obama believes Nato should be part of the mission’s command structure, the White House has said.

8:52pm: Jubran Hussein el Warfali, one of the heads of the Gaddafi battalions, has been killed near Tripoli

 

8:41pm: Enforcement of the no-fly zone over Libya appears to be entering its fourth night. In the past few minutes, anti-aircraft fire and distant explosions have been heard in Tripoli, AFP reports.

8:36pm: Col Gaddafi’s forces may have the advantage in firepower, but it seems a few new weapons are making their way into rebel hands. Rob Crilly of the Telegraph newspaper, who is in Benghazi, tweets: “some of the rebels have very new looking AK-47s today. Shiny and they are covering the muzzles to keep dust out #libya

8:10pm: The UK Foreign Office tweets: “We continue to urge remaining British nationals in Libya to leave as soon as it is safe to do so.”

7:58pm: One of the rebels in Benghazi, Abdallah Fajani, tells our correspondent Gaddafi will fight hard to hold on to this area: “Ajdabiya is the crossroads from three, four, five cities, so he wants to be in this city because this city is very important… And [so] it is important for us as well.”

7:54pm: The BBC’s Ian Pannell reports on the divisions among the Libyan rebels in Benghazi: “Rebels lack any command or control, they have no communications equipment and only light weapons… There are divergent strategies here: some envision pushing to the west, perhaps even to go as far as Tripoli; others want to just take Ajdabiya and then consolidate their hold of the east, hoping the Libyans in other cities will rise up and liberate themselves.”

7:42pm: On the question of command and control of the military operation in Libya, the BBC’s Chris Morris in Brussels says there has been no agreement yet: “Britain wants Nato to take over, but it admits there are differences of opinion. Many countries are sceptical, including Turkey which wants any Nato mission to be much more strictly defined. And France has been resisting Nato control, saying Arab countries wouldn’t want it. So we may be heading for a European command, or a form of words which will allow Nato structures to take part, without taking a political lead – what diplomats here wouldn’t want to call a fudge.”

7:30pm: Salah in Zintan has told the BBC about attacks on the western city: “The city is quiet now, but 10 people were killed earlier today. There are many tanks to the north and people have told us that there is a very large group of troops coming from the south. If these troops arrive, they will destroy the city. We are waiting for the Americans and the French to come and help. So far they haven’t come to Zintan. We want them to help us, to check out the area and to do the best they can to protect us.”

7:25pm: A UK resident who has recently returned from Zawiya but does not wish to be named has just told the BBC: “I spoke to one of my trusted friends in Zawiya about two hours ago. He’d had to drive 30km out of Zawiya to get reception to call me – the phone was not his. He said there were hundreds of troops on the street searching people, asking questions, taking away mobile phones, money, laptops, memory sticks. House-to-house searches are frequent and violent.”

7:12pm: Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News’s international editor, has been to the hospital where some of the Libyans injuredin the US airmen’s rescue have been taken . She has spoken to the father of a young boy who expects to have his leg amputated due to a bullet wound.Gauging the reaction of locals in the area, she says: “The local Libyans do not seem resentful, they still want the coalition forces to keep operating.”

6:33pm: Qatar’s forces will be up and flying in the Libya coalition operations by the weekend, says US Adm Samuel Locklear, the head of US forces enforcing the no-fly zone, according to Reuters.

6:31pm: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are attacking civilians in the city of Misrata, Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, told reporters Tuesday. “We will continue to make him comply” with the United Nations Security Council resolution, Locklear said. The power of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s air force has been diminished to the point where it will “not have any negative impact” on coalition members conducting airstrikes, Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, said Tuesday.

6:01pm: A senior defense official says both the pilot and weapons officer from an Air Force F1-5 that crashed in Libya are now safely out of the country.

 


6:11pm:
It has emerged Libya has substantial gold reserves, reports the BBC’s Andrew Walker. They are worth more than $6bn at current prices, which puts Libya among the top 25 countries in terms of gold reserves. Libya is restricted in how it can use its overseas assets, but most Libyan gold is held inside the country and could generate millions of dollars in revenue for Col Gaddafi.


6:08pm:
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has said the international intervention in Libya, and France’s conduct in it, were in strict compliance with UN Resolution 1973, BBC Monitoring reports. He told the French National Assembly: “Even if we call for the departure of Gaddafi, it’s for the Libyan people and that people alone to decide on their fate and on their future leaders.”

6:04pm: French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has called for the creation of a special committee of foreign ministers from coalition countries to oversee operations in Libya, AFP reports. The military campaign could end at any time if Col Gaddafi accepts a ceasefire, Mr Juppe has added.

5:57pm: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has been commenting on events in Libya and the Arab world. Speaking in London, at the Times CEO Africa Summit, he said: “We are only in the early stages of what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East. It is already set to overtake the 2008 financial crisis and 9/11 as the most important development of the early 21st century, and is likely to bring some degree of political change in all countries in the Arab world.” The repercussions from the Middle East have also been felt in Sub-Saharan Africa, points out  Hague . He mentions the crisis in Ivory Coast, and criticises Zimbabwe for intimidating opponents. He warns: “Governments that block the aspirations of their people, that steal or are corrupt, that oppress and torture or that deny freedom of expression and human rights should bear in mind that they will find it increasingly hard to escape the judgement of their own people, or where warranted, the reach of international law.”


5:43pm:
From Reuters: Foreign ministers of the Libya no-fly zone coalition countries will meet in the coming days in a European capital, says French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

5:33pm: Reuters: Resident says at least 10 people killed in bombardment of west Libya town of Zintan

 

5:29pm: Fighting in the western city of Zintan, near the border with Tunisia, has now subsided, an eyewitness has told BBC Arabic. The witness, Abdul, said: “Right now, it is calmer than it was in the morning, when there was fighting and shelling in the east of the city. Those Gaddafi forces have now withdrawn. However, 50 to 60 tanks have massed at the northern entrance to the city. Gaddafi’s forces have also cut off the electricity.”

5:21pm: More now from the Libya desk at the BBC World Service, which has been speaking to people on the ground. In Misrata, an opposition activist has appealed to the international community for help: “We need a sea ambulance or medical supplies to be brought by sea, because the government has cut off electricity and water and the hospital is suffering.”

5:05pm:Western warplanes attacked a military aircraft belonging to Muammar Gaddafi’s armed forces that was flying towards the rebel-held city of Benghazi.

Libya Briefing by Major General Lorimer (22 Marach, 2011)

4:57pm: If the Arab world remains uneasy about the no-fly zone, there is little sign of reluctance among the Libyan rebels. The Libya desk at the BBC World Service has learned that representatives of the rebels’ Transitional national Council in Benghazi have called a protest for Tuesday evening against Russia’s calls for the air strikes and the no-fly zone to be suspended. They expect a significant turn-out. One resident told the BBC: “We are happy about air strikes. Without them Benghazi would have been destroyed. Gaddafi’s forces brought long line of tanks with weapons to destroy us. Without french air strikes on saturday we would be dead. WE think it’s a good step. The UN is helping us.” Another said: “We are happy the coalition strikes are here. It saved Benghazi from absolute disaster.”

4:51pm: Here are the key excerpts from the Nato statement on the no-fly zone: “Nato has now decided to launch an operation to enforce the arms embargo against Libya… [Nato ships and aircraft] will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries… At the same time, Nato has completed plans to help enforce the no-fly zone – to bring our contribution, if needed, in a clearly defined manner, to the broad international effort to protect the people of Libya from the violence of the Gaddafi regime.” However, there is no specific mention of using Nato’s command-and-control structure to direct operations.

4:44pm: The port in the Libyan capital of Tripoli appears to have been hit by a missile strike overnight, CNN’s Nic Robertson reports. He says he can see the smoldering remains of several large military rocket launcher systems. Witnesses told CNN they saw missiles strike in the port area overnight.

4:38pm: In Tripoli, Libyan officials say a naval facility in the east of the city was bombed overnight by coalition forces, Reuters reports.

4:35pm: There are further reports of fighting on the ground between pro-Gaddafi forces and the rebels. The AFP news agency says at least nine people were killed in clashes on Monday and Tuesday in the rebel-controlled town of Yafran, 130km (80 miles) south-west of Tripoli.

4:30pm: NATO on Tuesday said it will begin to enforce an arms embargo against Libya. NATO ships and aircraft “will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries,” according to a NATO statement. The alliance will also help enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, the statement from NATO’s secretary-general said.

The latest statement from the Libyan Transitional National Council

4:27pm: The backing of the Arab League was crucial for getting the UN resolution on the Libya no-fly zone, but some Arab countries are watching developments with unease. Algeria’s foreign minister says Western military intervention in Libya is “disproportionate” and must end immediately, Reuters reports, quoting the Algerian state news agency. Algeria has seen small-scale protests since the wave of uprisings in the Arab world began three months ago but the demonstrations have usually been broken up by the security forces.

4:25pm: Residents in Yafran southwest of Tripoli report fierce fighting between Gaddafi forces and Libyan rebels

4:25pm: Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons is onboard the USS Kearsarge, just off the Libyan coast, which was involved in the recovery of the crew of the F-15. ”We’re told two aircraft were involved in the recovery operation,” he said. ”The two pilots are in good condition. They are expected to be heading possibly to his ship which has excellent medical facilities on board. They were over flying northeast Libya on mission. It is not known exactly what they were engaged in.”

The wreckage of a U.S. Air Force F-15 in Libya on Tuesday.

4:20pm: Spain has voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking part in the coalition to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s request for formal approval of the move was adopted by 336 votes to 3, with one abstention. Spanish planes have already been patrolling Libyan airspace. Madrid has also sent a frigate and a submarine to join coalition forces.

4:15pm: More on the debate over who should lead the mission in Libya: France is not the only country opposed to a joint Nato command, Yves Boyer, deputy director of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research tells the BBC World Service. Like the French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, Mr Boyer pointed out that the operation was not initiated by Nato but by individual countries forming a coalition. Given that the operation was “relatively limited in scope”, he said it could “be led by a Franco-British team, or by a European command, either the British or the French taking the lead”.

3:44pm: President Obama has called the Emir of Qatar, and underscored Qatar’s contribution to the Libya mission, the White House has added.

3:39pm: Turkey is “uniquely aware of the command and control capabilities of Nato, but has declined to discuss what more Turkey may do on Libya”, the White House has said, according to Reuters.

3:30pm: Al Jazeera’s James Bays filed this report from the front lines today

3:22pm: Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci has said Western-led air strikes on Col Gaddafi’s forces in Libya were disproportionate and threatened to worsen the crisis

3:20pm: The Daily Telegraph has an account of the welcome the US airman received after his crash near Benghazi: “Raising his hands in the air he called out ‘OK, OK’ to greet the crowd. But he need not have worried. ‘I hugged him and said don’t be scared we are your friends,’ said Younis Amruni, 27… A queue formed to shake the hand of the airman, as locals thanked him for his role in the attacks.”

3:15pm: Nato ambassadors have agreed Nato warships would help to enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats in Brussels have said, Reuters reports. The envoys have been trying to resolve the question of who should command the military campaign in Libya if the US steps back from leading the operation, they said

3:12pm:Opposition member in Misrata said he stopped counting the number of injured after he had reached 1,200. The death toll will increase as those injured will succumb. Witness says that some of the dead are unidentifiable and that Gaddafi forces are killing indiscriminately

3:05pm:Al Jazeera correspondent James Bays near Ajdabiya says that the opposition is only lightly armed in comparison to the heavily armed Gaddafi force. Bays says that neither side is gaining much ground on expanding their front line position

2:37pm: Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has himself spoken after his meeting with Mr Gates, saying an immediate ceasefire would be the best way to protect civilians in Libya. He has said Russia believes “that an immediate ceasefire and a dialogue between the belligerent parties is the surest path to the reliable security of civilians”.

2:35pm: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who is in Moscow, has said some people in Russia seem to believe what he called Col Gaddafi’s “lies” about civilian casualties in Libya: “We’ve been very careful about this, and it’s almost as though some people here are taking at face value Gaddafi’s claims about the number of civilian casualties, which as far as I am concerned are just outright lies,” he told reporters after talks with the Russian defence minister.

2:32pm: Libyan doctor in Misrata: The children of a colleague were killed by Col Gaddafi’s forces on Tuesday morning, “two boys and two girls. The situation is so serious. In my hospital here, we have no electricity and we work with a generator.” The doctor added he had not been in touch with his family for 10 days and did not know how they were. He says he lives in the hospital, where water and medical supplies are running low. “In one or two days, we can go home, because we won’t be able to do more than normal people can do. We are relieved to hear about the air strikes and the coalition forces, but on the ground we are dying every day.

2:20pm: UN Refugee Agency tweets: “#UNHCR staff at #Tunisia’s border with #Libya say they can hear gunfire coming from deep inside Libya.”

 

2:09pm: British Major General John Lorimer has said the coalition operation in Libya is having a “very real effect”, and that the Libyan government attack on Benghazi on Monday was stopped in its track.

1:59pm: The French government says it will support coalition partners on Libya when the US scales back its participation, Reuters reports

 

1:47pm: In Britain, David Cameron’s spokesman says the prime minister has updated the cabinet on the latest developments in Libya. “The cabinet is completely united on the issue but clearly people do have questions,” the spokesman said. He added that the issue of whether Col Gaddafi would be targeted was not raised, saying “we have a very clear position on that”.

1:25pm:The US Command in Africa also confirms to the BBC that the plane which camed down in Libya was based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, Britain

1:15pm: Heavy shelling and battle now in the city of Ajdabiya

 

1:05pm: The US military now says that the second crew member from the crashed jet in Libya has been rescued, Reuters reports.

12:50pm: A spokesman in the rebel-held town of Misrata says that pro-Gaddafi forces killed five people, four of them children, on Tuesday, the AFP reports

12:44pm:Turkey will “never point guns” at Libyans, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is quoted as saying by Reuters. Mr Erdogan also says that the military operation sould be conducted under the UN control.

12:31pm: African Command’s Kenneth Fidler tells the BBC the indications are that the crash was not caused “by hostile action”. He says that one crew member has been recovered, and an operation is currently under way to recover the other serviceman. Mr Fidler also confirms that the warplane – F-15E Strike Eagle – crashed overnight. It was not immediately clear where the jet went down.

12:25pm: The US African Command has now confirmed to the BBC that the US warplane crashed in Libya.

12:07pm: Reuters is reporting that Tanks are firing shells at Libyan rebel-held city of Misratah

 

12:00pm: The Telegraph now says that the crashed US warplane is an F-15E Eagle.

11:55pm: Journalist Rob Crilly from The Telegraph currently in Libya tweets: “just found a crashed US warplane in a field. believe a mechanical failure brought it down #libya” a tweet a few minutes later added: crew believed safe #libya

11:53pm: Spanish aircraft have joined the military operation in Libya, the defence ministry in Madrid is quoted as saying by Spain’s TVE broadcaster

 

11:51am:There have been fresh air strikes on Ajdabiya, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal reports. Chris says he saw four large plumes of smoke coming from Ajdabiya, which is under control of Gaddafi’s forces, a short while after hearing aircraft overhead.

11:40pm: A presenter on Libya’s pro-Gaddafi TV station al-Libya is shown holding an automatic weapon in the studio and pledging to fight till his “last drop of blood”.

11:17am: Pro-Gaddafi forces are attacking the town of Zintan using heavy weapons, Reuters is quoting al-Jazeera as saying.

10:58AM: A doctor in Misrata, who wanted to remain anonymous, tells the BBC: “This is the fifth or sixth consecutive day of shelling the city. Our clinic is full of patients. We have no more beds to treat the patients. There is no light in the city. There has been no communication for 10 days and no water for more than one week. And still the heavy shelling continues. The situation is so serious. The international community must take responsibility. Since yesterday we have received 125 injured including an entire family with four children, shot in their car while trying to leave. Even my medical resources are running out. We can’t sustain this any more.”

10:23AM: The BBC’s Allan Little reports from Tripoli: “We have been shown no evidence of destruction but for the single exception of the missile that struck Col Gaddafi’s own compound on Sunday night. The government said that was proof that the air strikes had nothing to do with protecting civilians. A government spokesman said that a naval base 10km east of Tripoli had been targeted last night, as well as locations in Sebha in the south and a fishing village on the Mediterranean, known as Area 27. The government insists that civilians have been killed and wounded. “Our hospitals are filling up,” one minister told us. We have pressed the government here to show us evidence that civilians had indeed been affected but so far they have not done so.

10:11AM: Residents in two besieged rebel-held cities in western Libya, Misrata and Zintan, said they had been attacked by Gaddafi’s forces, Reuters reported. In Misrata, residents said people had gone out into the streets to try to stop Gaddafi’s forces entering the city. Zintan, near the Tunisian border, faced heavy shelling, two witnesses said, forcing residents to flee to mountain caves. Several houses were destroyed and a mosque minaret destroyed. “New forces were sent today to besiege the city. There are now at least 40 tanks at the foothills of the mountains near Zintan,” Abdulrahmane Daw told Reuters by phone from the town.

9:55AM: Pakistan’s foreign office has issued a carefully-worded statement on the intervention but appears to be opposed to military action:

Pakistan is following, with serious concern, the developments in Libya in the wake of the military strikes. The loss of precious human lives is indeed regrettable. Peaceful political solution needs to be evolved by the Libyan people themselves in the spirit of mutual accommodation and national reconciliation.

The statement also gives credence to the regime’s claim of civilian casualties, calling such reports “extremely distressing.”

9:51AM: Three journalists who went missing in eastern Libya more than 72 hours ago have been arrested by Gaddafi troops, the AFP news agency reports. AFP reporter Dave Clark and photographer Roberto Schmidt were arrested       along with Getty photographer Joe Raedle, their driver says.

The team drove from Tobruk, near the border with Egypt, to Ajdabiya, which had fallen under the regime’s control. They encountered a convoy of military jeeps and transport vehicles “a few dozen kilometres” from Ajdabiya and were arrested by regime soldiers, along with other civilians who came down the road.

9:23AM: Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh tells Al Jazeera that Iraqi Shia political leader Muqtada al-Sadr “refuses and denounces” the foreign military intervention in Libya.

9:21AM: Reuters reports that six Qatari Mirage fighter jets are due to land at a military base in Souda, Crete, today. Twelve F-16s and 12 Mirages from the United Arab Emirates are also going to head to Sicily soon, but the exact date isn’t known, Reuters says.

9:15AM: China again calls for an end to fighting in Libya, expressing “deep concern” at reported civilian casualties and warning of a “humanitarian disaster”, Reuters reports.

8:52AM: New video purports to show the results of the battle for the western town of Misurata, home to a major oil refinery, where the Gaddafi regime and the opposition disagree about who is currently in control. The government claims Misurata was “liberated” three days ago, but the opposition claim they retain control. This video shows at least three abandoned Gaddafi tanks and an armoured personnel carrier.

8:37AM: The BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Tobruk says: “Contacts between the rebel leadership and the UN are in their early stages. Like everything else about the popular uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi, they have an air of improvisation against them. The speed with which the situation in Libya has evolved from spontaneous street protest to armed rebellion has not allowed for detailed planning. The talks were to discuss the humanitarian situation in eastern Libya. The rebel-held area continues to import food supplies from neighboring Egypt, but it is not clear how viable the local economy will be if it remains cut off from the rest of Libya for an extended period. Everything depends on the military situation, and that depends on the countries conducting air operations interpret their UN mandate. If they attack government troops on the battlefield, it will give the rebels a military edge. If they confine themselves to patrolling a no-fly zone, a long stalemate may well emerge.”

8:27AM:Libyan opposition leaders in eastern Libya have met representatives of the United Nations in Tobruk to discuss the humanitarian situation in opposition-held parts of the country. No announcements followed the talks, which took place as UN-sanctioned air operations took place elsewhere in the country.

8:22AM: More RAF jets have arrived at the Gioia del Colle airbase in southern Italy. The base is just over an hour’s flying time from Libya. The BBC’s Duncan Kennedy, is there: “Fighter aircraft from several nations in the coalition have been converging on air bases across southern Italy. Here at Gioia del Colle, which was used by the British during the Kosovo conflict, at least 10 combat jets have arrived. They are thought to be a mixture of typhoons and tornados. Other countries are using bases in Sicily and Sardinia, which is hosting aircraft from the United Arab Emirates. Britain’s jets are using Gioia del Colle because it’s close to Libya, allowing aircraft to patrol deeper into Libyan territory and to remain in its airspace for much longer periods without mid-air refueling.”

8:15AM: A senior US defense official has told the Associated Press that the air and missile strikes by international forces have reduced Libya’s air defense capabilities by more than 50%. That has enabled the coalition to focus more on extending the no-fly zone across Libya.

6:56AM: The Libyan government has asked the UN for an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the international military action in Libya. The meeting will now take place on Thursday, exactly a week since Resolution 1973 imposed a no-fly zone.

6:43AM: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has strongly criticised the bomb attacks on Libya and accused Western countries of applying double standards. Writing in the Ugandan newspaper, the New Vision, Mr Museveni said the West had been eager to impose a no-fly-zone on Libya but had turned a blind eye to similar conditions in Bahrain and other countries with pro-Western governments. Zimbabwe’s President Roberty Mugabe said the UN Security Council resolution authorising the military action should never have been passed.

6:16AM: Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s former deputy permanent representative to the UN in New York, tells the BBC that the UN-mandated operation to enforce a no-fly zone is going well. “The attacks are accurate enough, there have been no civilian casualties, and the morale of the people is very high,” he says.

5:26AM: The United States fired 20 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya in the past 12 hours, a military spokeswoman said early Tuesday morning from the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 159 Tomahawks have been fired by the United States and the United Kingdom since an international coalition started Operation Odyssey Dawn on Saturday. Cmdr. Monica Rousselow, a spokeswoman for the task force, also said one of the three U.S. submarines that participated at the beginning of the operation has since departed the area. She declined to say which submarine.

5:25AM The ‘road of death’ links Libya’s Benghazi to Tripoli, as Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports.

 

5:13AM: A US general has said that the air and missile strikes on Libyan military are likely to slow in the coming days. “My sense is that, that unless something unusual or unexpected happens, we may see a decline in the frequency of attacks,” Gen Carter Ham, the head of US Africa Command, told reporters in Washington. But he added: “We possess the capability to bring overwhelming combat power to bear, as we have done in the initial stages of this, where it’s been required.”

4:26am: Abdul Kerim, a member of the rebel National Council in Benghazi, tells the BBC that people there view the international action positively. “Everybody believes now that the United Nations resolution to protect civilians has been acted in a perfect way in Benghazi and everybody is looking now to do the same for Misrata and Zintan. Yesterday a lot of people contacted by telephone calls – different sides – begging United Nations to do the same protection for Misrata and Zintan.” Image: This image comes out of  Tripoli. Anti-aircraft rounds fired in Tripoli [Reuters]

File 17301

4:09am: CNN correspondent Nic Robertson in Libya has rejected a report by the Fox News network that he and other journalists were used as human shields by Col Gaddafi to prevent a missile attack on his compound. A story posted on the Fox News website on Monday said the presence of news crews from CNN, Reuters and other organisations interfered with British military operations. Read the FOX news article here.

4:02am: Libyan state television has accused Denmark of carrying out Sunday’s attack on Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, BBC Monitoring reports. “The offensive on Bab al-Aziziya has been commanded by Denmark,” the station said in a rare English-language bulletin at about 0120 GMT. The newsreader went on to accuse Denmark of having “for several years” led a “campaign against Muslims” through cartoons insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

3:50am: A woman in Tripoli says she was awoken this morning by a loud explosion from a nearby military base.After being shaken from her sleep around 2:20 a.m., she said she heard gunfire and went to the roof of her building to observe. “Then I heard the second explosion,” she said. She saw fire rising up from the direction of Mitiga Airport, formerly known as the U.S. Wheelus Air Base. She also said that people continue to live in fear of Gadhafi. “They’re afraid to come out because when they do, he attacked them very, very severely,” she says. “This is putting terror in all neighborhoods.”

http://www.theotherrussia.org/images/moscowtimes-logo-2.thumbnail.gif3:45am: Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, writing on the Moscow Times blog, says: “The Libya war, by itself, is unlikely to spoil US-Russian relations. The stakes in Libya are minimal, while the stakes elsewhere in the relationship are high. The critical question, however, is whether the United States will decide it has to intervene in Iran as well to help the Iranian people topple the country’s tyrannical theocracy. Seen from Moscow, Iran is certainly closer to home than Libya.”

3:32am: Richard Murphy, a former US assistant secretary of state, tells the BBC his hope is that “the Libyan military will not want to see their equipment and facilities destroyed, as they can be destroyed by air power – and that the rebel forces will show more training and capability than they previously have”. He adds: “It is in the hands of the Libyans. The outsiders are only going to be able to do so much.”

3:15am: Libyan state television reports that Libyans keep backing their leader, with crowds flocking to al-Aziziah square to show their support. It also says many world capitals are witnessing demonstrations in support for Libya while the “crusader enemy” continues bombing civilian targets.

3:14am: The Dutch government says Libya probably had inside information about the failed evacuation of a Dutch citizen by three Dutch soldiers held for 12 days by Libyan authorities. The Dutch citizen has since been released from the city of Sirte, and the three soldiers have also been freed with the help of Greek authorities.

306am: Only one in three people in the UK agree it is right for Britain to take military action against Col Gaddafi’s forces in Libya, according to a ComRes/ITN poll. It found that 43% of those surveyed disagreed with the action taken by the UK government and 22% were unsure.

3:00am: For those just joining us, explosions and heavy anti-aircraft fire have been heard in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for a third night. The Libyan authorities said that a naval base and a fishing village near the capital were also hit by air attacks. The US, France and Britain have said that the Libyan leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi, is not being targeted despite the destruction of a building in his compound on Sunday night.

2:56am: Mohammed Abdule-Mullah, a rebel fighter in Libya, tells the Associated Press news agency that government troops stopped their resistance after the international campaign began. “But pro-Gaddafi forces are still strong,” he says. “They are professional military, and they have good equipment. Ninety-nine percent of us rebels are civilians, while Gaddafi’s people are professional fighters.”

2:45am: State television in Libya says several sites in Tripoli have come under attack on Monday night by what it deemed the “crusader enemy”, Reuters reports.

2:33am: US Representative Ron Paul from the state of Texas tells US broadcaster CNN that President Obama should have consulted Congress before he acted in Libya. Mr Paul says America’s attack on Libya is unconstitutional and that the US is “not accomplishing what it set out to do”.

2:16AM: Al-Jazeera correspondent Anita McNaught says the government claims there have been heavy civilian casualties in coalition attacks on two major airports. Journalists have been invited to visit hospitals on Tuesday.

1:30AM: Brazil’s foreign ministry has spoken out about the events in Libya, saying in a statement:

“Brazil laments the loss of life occurring in the conflict in the country. The Brazilian government has the expectation of the implementation of an effective ceasefire as soon as possible, with the capacity to guarantee the protection of the civil population, and create conditions for the path for dialogue. Brazil reiterates her solidarity with the Libyan people and their participation in the future politics of the country in an environment that protects human rights.”

Oregon man asks why he was queried by FBI in Tunisia

By Nigel Duara

A Libyan-American who says he was forbidden from returning to the United States and questioned by FBI agents in Tunisia after visiting neighboring Libya insists he has done nothing wrong.

“I do intend to protect my rights. I do intend to clear my name,” 55-year-old Jamal Tarhuni said after arriving at Portland International Airport Tuesday morning from Amsterdam.

Tarhuni belongs to a Portland mosque that has been under scrutiny by federal investigators in years past.

He traveled to Libya last fall to help deliver humanitarian supplies. Tarhuni said he was barred without explanation from flying home on a flight from Tunis, Tunisia, on Jan. 17 and that he was told he should report to the U.S. Consulate.

Tarhuni said when he went to the consulate he was told he was on a no-fly list and was questioned by two FBI agents about his religious beliefs, whether he believes in Sharia law and about his mosque.

He said when the agents asked him to waive his Miranda rights he called his attorney, Thomas Nelson of Portland. Nelson advised Tarhuni to stop the interview with the agents, which Tarhuni did, and then he left the consulate.

Nelson flew to Tunisia and returned with Tarhuni on Tuesday. Asked why Tarhuni was allowed to leave, Nelson said the pair “raised hell” with the help of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

“They didn’t have a case,” Nelson said. “I said this is not an investigation, this is coercion.”

Nelson said the U.S. Consulate in Tunisia told him earlier this month they thought Tarhuni could travel, but neither Tarhuni nor his attorney was certain he would be allowed into the U.S. until they reached Amsterdam.

Wyden spokesman Tom Towslee confirmed that the senator had inquired about Tarhuni’s case, but said “there’s a lot we don’t know.”

“It’s hard to be concerned without knowing what’s going on,” Towslee said. “Obviously the FBI has something going on there.”

Towslee said of Tarhuni: “We’re glad he’s home.”

The FBI refused to comment.

The Portland mosque where Tarhuni worships, Masjid al-Sabr, has attracted the interest of federal investigators since the first years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali-American awaiting trial on a charge of plotting to detonate a bomb at Portland’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony in November 2010, worshipped there occasionally.

The mosque’s imam, Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, was arrested at Portland International Airport in September 2002 by an FBI-led anti-terrorism task force. He pleaded guilty to using a fraudulent Social Security number and defrauding a state health insurance program for the poor by underestimating his income. A federal judge sentenced Kariye to five years on probation.

Most recently, three Muslim men from Portland traveling abroad have discovered they are facing travel restrictions.

They include Tarhuni as well as another Libyan-American, 60-year-old Mustafa Elogbi. Like Tarhuni, Elogbi traveled to Libya after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi. Elogbi went to visit family.

He planned to return last month. Elogbi got as far as a connecting flight in London before he was sent back to Tunisia, he said earlier this month. He said he was held in a British jail for two days and told by British authorities that the U.S. government was preventing him from flying home.

Elogbi is still in Tunisia but says he has been told he will be allowed to return to the U.S. this week.

Last year, Portland resident Michael Migliore, a Muslim convert, traveled to England by boat because of his apparent placement on the U.S. no-fly list. He was detained upon arrival and later released by British authorities.

Tarhuni said that when he was interviewed by the FBI agents in Tunis, they were interested in activities at the mosque.

“They wanted to know about people, what they do in there,” Tarhuni said. “For them to try to link people to a certain place and assume that they are part of a group, that is wrong.”

Tarhuni and Elogbi are getting support from the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has asked the Justice Department to investigate the tactics of FBI agents in Portland.

Source: Bloomberg Business Week

Amid a Berber Reawakening in Libya, Fears of Revenge

By: C.J Chivers
In the evening, as the searing desert temperatures subside, the residents who have returned to this rebel-held city near the front lines appear on the streets. Some of them carry cans of paint, and begin to decorate murals with the characters of an ancient language that had been forbidden by the government of Col.Muammar el-Qaddafi.

The language is Tamazight, the tongue of the Amazigh, or Berbers, who, after decades of oppression in Libya are re-emerging as a political force.

As rebels have chased the Qaddafi military from much of the arid highlands in Libya’s west this spring and summer, Yafran has become the easternmost outpost of a cultural and linguistic reawakening that has expanded across the map, and it is expected to expand more.

Overlooking the Libyan desert plain, the city shows signs of a nascent sense of self-determination — a step, the Amazigh hope, toward full national and regional recognition.

In Yafran, Libya, a Berber, or Amazigh, boy decorated a government building being turned into a revolutionary exhibit.

“Before we were in darkness — we were invisible,” said Osama Graber, 36, an Amazigh mechanical engineer who is now an opposition fighter. “And now we can be seen, and are tasting freedom.”

No sooner had the Qaddafi forces pulled back from this city than its residents began reasserting their standing, even as the Qaddafi military lingered just beyond rocket range.

They followed a model seen in other traditionally Amazigh cities — including Nalut and Jadu — that have already broken free of the government’s grip. And they hope to build on gains realized by Amazigh people elsewhere, including in Morocco, which gave official standing to the language in June.

Joy Greets Rebels in Garrison Town Near Libya Capital

By CHARLES LEVINSON

GHARYAN, Libya—For over two decades Col. Mabrouk Sahban commanded Libyan security forces in the Western Mountains from his spacious second-story office with a private washroom on a pine-shaded hilltop in this strategic garrison town. On Friday, that office lay in ashen ruins.

hone, labeled ext. 103, had melted to the incinerated desk. Earlier in the week, rebel fighters claimed this city, which sits just 43 miles south of Tripoli and straddles a north-south thoroughfare connecting the capital to Col. Gadhafi’s southern supply hubs, his traditional stronghold of Sebha and neighboring Algeria.

“I never thought I’d see it like this,” said Ibrahim Ramadan Shati, a 46-year-old Gharyan resident who had served as a soldier in Col. Gadhafi’s army at this base in the late 1990s. “This was one of the strongest brigades in all of Libya. Now it’s gone.”

Residents of Gharyan celebrate Friday after Libyan rebel fighters claim the Western Mountain garrison town, which had housed a Gadhafi brigade.

Rebel advances here and in the coastal town of Zawiya have severed road links and supply lines to and from the capital. With Tripoli cut off from the outside world, by rebel forces on the ground and North Atlantic Treaty Organization ships and planes in the sea and air, concern has mounted over a possible refugee exodus from the capital of two million residents.

The International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental relief group that assists migrants, announced it had begun working to find ways to rescue thousands of Egyptians and other foreigners trapped in the city, which has been cut off as a results of the rebel gains earlier this week.

It was a day of fierce fighting on other fronts. East of Tripoli, Misrata’s rebels suffered 30 dead and 120 wounded, but by the end of the day claimed victory over Zliten, a city they have fought back and forth over for several weeks and standing between them and Tripoli.

NATO continued to bombard regime targets in the capital, including the home of Abdullah al-Senussi, Col. Gadhafi’s brother-in-law and head of intelligence, according to Reuters.

In the coastal city of Zawiya, just 30 miles west of Tripoli, rebels continued close-quarters combat with loyalist forces for control of the town, which stands as the Western gateway to Tripoli. In six days of fighting, rebels have made substantial gains in the city, but are struggling to finish off Col. Gadhafi’s forces, who rebels said received a crucial resupply overnight.

Col. Gadhafi appears to have given up a robust defense of territory elsewhere, including Gharyan, to focus his remaining military power on Zawiya. Long regarded as the Libyan leader’s Western Mountain stronghold, Gharyan’s defenses collapsed in just four or five hours on Sunday, one day after the battle for Zawiya began. It took another 24 hours to clear out the last remnants of Col. Gadhafi’s forces from the city.

“We had always been told how important Gharyan was, we heard Gadhafi had brough in reinforcements, but when we attacked, it all dissolved,” said Adel Seger, a rebel commander in the city. Still, rebels said they lost 35 fighters in the battle to retake the city.

Rebels marched through the city’s streets firing rifles into the air and waving rebel flags on Friday. They also buried their dead, including a 19-year-old boy killed by a sniper.

At the boy’s gravesite, his brothers wept and had to be carried away draped over their friends’ shoulders. There were hints of the scars that six months of civil war have left on Libyan society. One resident, Faisal Jailani, said one of the snipers who had terrorized the city’s residents had lived among them for nearly 30 years, before rebels captured him this week.

“We helped raise this boy. How could he turn against us like this?” wondered Mr. Jailani. “I hope he hangs.”

But for the rest of the city, Friday was a day of jubilation. Muftah al-Arabi reopened his camera shop and recounted how Col. Gadhafi’s henchmen used to show up and demand free services, such as, on one occasion, 1,000 posters of Col. Gadhafi. If he refused, he would be branded a dissident and jailed, he said.

“He’s finished, Gadhafi is finished,” Mr. Arabi said, with a beaming smile.

That buoyant optimism has infected rebel ranks. In recent days, as rebels have advanced closer to Tripoli, there have been an increasing flow of reports in Arab and Western media outlets that the end of Col. Gadhafi’s rule is imminent.

Abdel Moneim al-Houni, the rebels’ envoy in Cairo, told the al-Jazeera television network on Friday that Col. Gadhafi had sent letters to the leaders of Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and South Africa asking for safe refuge for his wife, daughter and one of his sons. NBC News cited U.S. officials who claimed Col. Gadhafi was making preparations to leave Libya with his family, possibly for Tunisia.

French and United Nations mediators have been involved in closed-door talks with rebel and government officials in Tunisia all week, according to U.N. officials and former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Le Parisien newspaper reported, who was one of the mediators.

On Thursday, the rebels’ National Transitional Council appointed a team to oversee an urgent national mobilization plan. The plan calls for the massive transfer of personnel and equipment west toward Tripoli from the rebels de facto capital in Benghazi once the fighting begins for the capital or Col. Gadhafi falls, according to Fathi Baja, a rebel council member in charge of security issues.

Rebels have also begun broadcasting messages to Tripoli residents using their radio and satellite television networks trying to counter months of propaganda by Col. Gadhafi’s media. The messages sought to reassure Tripoli residents that rebel fighters would not cause them harm when they entered the capital and urged residents to prevent looting and other acts of disorder.

“I think the zero hour is very soon, and I think the ground is very prepared to take Tripoli,” said Mr. Baja.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Libya rebels breach Brega: military

Libya’s rebels said a light mobile force had breached the strategically vital oil town of Brega late Friday, before pulling back in anticipation of a renewed offensive at daybreak.

Mohammed Zawi, a spokesman for the rebel army, told AFP a group of reconnaissance troops had entered the city from the north, then pulled back four kilometres before midnight (22:00 GMT).

Libya rebels breach Brega

The probing raid deep into Kadhafi-held territory came around 32 hours after the rebel command launched a three-pronged attack to wrest control of the town back from Moamer Kadhafi’s troops.

While the rebels’ forward position to the north was four kilometres from the town centre, a second unit attacking from due east of Brega faced stiffer resistance and was about 10-20 kilometres from the town.

“Most of Kadhafi’s troops seem to be at the centre,” said Zawi.

To the south of the town, where the rebels had made initial gains but suffered large numbers of casualties, Kadhafi forces had pushed back harder.

With fighting in the dusty desert terrain difficult, Zawi said he expeced fighters on both sides to dig in for the night.

Rebels were also trying to dispose of more than 100 landmines placed around the town.

“Tomorrow we can take Brega, God willing,” he said.

Brega, nestled at the southeastern tip of the Gulf of Sirte, has changed hands multiple times during Libya’s civil war, which soon enters its fifth month.

In recent weeks the rebels have been holed up at a forward position 40 kilometres from both Brega and Ajdabiya, inching forward and clearing mines so their handful of T-72 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles can have a freer rein.

The town’s vast oil refinery and storage facilities – if intact – could provide fuel and a much-needed income stream for the rebels.

A victory would also provide a major boost for rebel morale, which had been sagging amid months of stalemate.

Source: News 24

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: Explosions heard in Tripoli but location remains unclear

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. Also check out the featured twitters on the sidebar. On the Go? -Follow us on Twitter @Feb17Libya for the same live updates.

All updates are in Libyan local time.

That’s it for today’s live coverage on March 23rd – Check back shortly for the coverage on March 24.

Continue reading to catch up on all today’s events regarding Libya

2:19am: House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, has written to Barack Obama saying he is “troubled” by US involvement in Libya. “What is your benchmark for success in Libya?” he asks.

Footage: Graphic footage of children and babies in Misrata. Even children are not safe from Gaddafi Forces.

WARNING EXTREMELY GRAPHIC

These infant babies were injured in a Misrata children’s hospital that was shelled by Gaddafi forces.

Check out the latest maps out of Libya:

Main Attack sites Allied Military Assets

12:32pm: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates says the Libyans must determine their own future. “It seems to me that if there is a mediation to be done […] it is among the Libyans themselves. This matter at the end of the day is going to have to be settled by Libyans,” he said, according to Reuters. He also said: “The president has made clear that the United States is not going to have the lead on this operation for the longer term, and in fact for more than a week or so.”

12:11pm: Libyan state news agency Jana is reporting that coalition raids have hit a residential neighbourhood east of the capital and killed “a large number” of civilians. The report cannot be verified.

12:05pm: Correspondents in Tripoli says more loud explosions have been heard in the capital over the past hour but their location is unclear. They say they appeared to come from the direction of Col Gaddafi’s compound, but could also have come from the Tajura district where reports say a military base has been hit.

11:58pm: Back to those reports of an airstrike on a military base in Tajura, near Tripoli: Witnesses have told AFP they can see flames coming from the base. Tajura – home to key Libyan military facilities – was struck by coalition forces on Saturday.

11:31pm: CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller tweets: “Official says US intervention in Libya is not a war but a military operation to be limited in duration and scope.”

11:21pm: Witnesses say a huge blast has hit a military base in the Tajura district 32km (20 miles) east of Tripoli. Libya’s official Jana news agency also said Tajura had been targeted twice on Wednesday.

11:15pm: Al-Arabiya news is reporting that it was Col Gaddafi’s compound in Ajdabiya that was targeted in an airstrike tonight, not his compound in Tripoli as was earlier reported. There is no independent confirmation of the report.

11:11pm: Correspondents in Tripoli say they can see tracer fire going up into the sky, but much less than on previous nights.

11:16pm: Al Jazeera English correspondent Anita McNaught, in Tripoli, journalists were driven around the city earlier today with a promise from the government of being taken to see the scene of a coaltion air strike, some civilian casualties, maybe even a hospital.But none of this happened. After being driven around for 45 minuets or so, we were being taken back to the hotel and they said they couldn’t find the right address.”

10:41pm: Reuters: Government tanks loyal to Gaddafi are positioned at the eastern and western entrances of the city of Ajdabiyah, Arabiya television reported.

Thanks for joining us again:

Here is a quick update of today’s developments:

Explosions and anti-aircraft fire have been heard in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for a fourth night;
Col Gaddafi has given a defiant address to his supporters – the first time he’s appeared since international air strikes began;
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said figures close to Col Gaddafi are investigating possible options for exile; and coalition powers have been thrashing out a new command structure aimed at toning down US leadership.

10:14pm: More now on Hillary Clinton’s statement: She says the US wants the Libyan government to “make the right decision” by instituting a ceasefire, withdrawing forces and preparing for a transition of power that doesn’t include Col Gaddafi.

10:02pm: AJELive tweets: “Libyan authorities say they will release Al Jazeera’s reporting crew within 24 hours, after they were detained in west Libya last week.”

9:59pm: The French presidential source quoted by Reuters over a possible coalition steering group says: “The idea is to also invite countries who weren’t at the summit on Saturday who are interested in being involved. We need to have a place for all those who want to commit to help Libyans build a future and discuss the political framework.”

9:52pm: More on developments in Misrata: A witness has told AFP that pro-Gaddafi forces are shelling the hospital. A rebel spokesman said tanks were also shelling houses in the city. It is not possible to verify the reports.

9:44pm: Russia believes a ground invasion of Libya is almost a certainty, Kremlin foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko has told Itar-Tass news agency. “There is no co-ordinated plan in place and the operation can drag on,” he said.

9:27pm: The UN has issued a statement condemning the recent violence. It says: “The Secretary-General condemns the continued use of force in the western part of Libya, including Zintan and Misrata. Once again, he reiterates his call for an immediate end to violence by all parties, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, and for the responsibility to protect civilians. All those who violate international humanitarian and human rights law will be held fully accountable.”

9:24pm: Pro-Gaddafi forces have resumed shelling the besieged city of Misrata, which is almost totally cut off. “Government tanks are closing in on Misrata hospital and shelling the area,” a witness told Reuters by phone before the line was cut off.

9:17pm: Bombing raids appear to have resumed over Libya. A few minutes ago, Libyan state TV reported that the Tajoura area of Tripoli “was the subject of an imperialist, crusader raid against some civilian and military targets”. Meanwhile, a large blast was heard at a military base 32km (20 miles) east of the capital, witnesses told AFP.

8:38pm: Canada has carried out its first bombing raids over Libya, AP reports. In the attack near the besieged city of Misrata, four CF-18 jets, supported by two refuelling aircraft, carried out two separate bombing runs, said deputy chief of air force staff Maj Gen Tom Lawson. The Canadian planes dropped four laser-guided bombs near the besieged city of Misrata on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

8:29pm: More detail now on Nato’s failure to agree on taking over command of the Libya operation (815 entry). Reuters quotes a Nato diplomat who says there problems remained over the relationship between enforcing the no-fly zone and military operations to protect civilians, and how broad the mission should be.

8:06pm: The BBC’s John Simpson, who has just arrived in Tripoli, reports: “As you drive in from Libya’s western border with Tunisia, there are no signs of bombing but plenty of signs of the recent fighting between Col Gaddafi’s forces and rebels. Houses and shops have been hit by artillery or tank shells from the fighting last week. There’s often tension at the many roadblocks along the way. At one of them, we were held for 40 minutes while other vehicles were carefully searched. Any petrol the searchers found in them was poured out onto the ground and there was a lot of angry shouting. In the town of Zawiya, only about 20 minutes’ drive from Tripoli, there were many more signs of recent fighting in the outskirts, and our car was diverted a long way to the south to avoid the centre of town. The streets were filled with cars in Tripoli this afternoon and there were plenty of children in the schools, but it’s clear that the tension rises as night falls.”

7:52pm: Roshann Khadivi, a Unicef worker based at a refugee camp on the Tunisia-Libya border border, tells the BBC about the situation there: “The kind of people we are seeing cross continues to be – obviously – migrant workers, but we do see families. My colleagues on the Egyptian border with Libya say that they are seeing more and more Libyans, particularly women and children fleeing from eastern Libya because of the fighting and obviously they are quite scared and uncertain. However, saying this, we have seen an increase on the Tunisian border as well. The latest numbers show 6,000 in the three camps that we are monitoring here.

7:22pm: Abdul Rahman in Zintan has given an update to the BBC’s Arabic service: “Zintan was shelled twice today, once around midday and again in the afternoon. Each time the shelling lasted for about an hour. There are about 30,000 to 40,000 people in Zintan and the city is under siege. Nobody can come in or out. We are starting to have shortages in water, food, fuel and medicine.”

7:17pm : Libya’s official al-Jamahiriyah TV is reporting that “crowds of citizens – men, women, young people and children – now continue to pour into Bab al-Aziziya (Col Gaddafi’s compound) in Tripoli to join the masses that have been sitting in there for days”

7:09pm: Snipers from pro-Gaddafi forces killed 16 people in Misrata on Wednesday, rebel spokesman Hafiz Ghoga is quoted as saying by Reuters.

Footage: of captured Tanks and AA-Guns captured by the Revolutionaries in Zintan (March 22)

Cameraman is praising the youth of Zintan. Even though they have no military training, they have learned how to operate the machinery to battle the dictator.

7:01pm: Libyan TV has released their official version of the ”Zenga-Zenga” song (cringe)

5:56pm:Britain will host an international conference in London next Tuesday to discuss the Libyan crisis, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague announces. Mr Hague says: “At the conference we will discuss the situation in Libya with our allies and partners and take stock of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 (2011). We will consider the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people and identify ways to support the people of Libya in their aspirations for a better future. A wide and inclusive range of countries will be invited, particularly from the region. It is critical that the international community continues to take united and co-ordinated action in response to the unfolding crisis. The meeting will form a contact group of nations to take forward this work.”

5:51pm: US Rear Admiral Gerard Hueber says that there is no evidence that pro-Gaddafi forces are pulling back from the towns of Misrata and Ajdabiyah

5:20pm:US Rear Admiral Gerard Hueber says that Sorties flown by Non-US Coalition Nations over Libya is increasing

5:56pm: Currently in Benghazi a ”Thank You” rally is being held. Libyans are waving flags from the various nations that helped in the International Coalition, among them are French and Qatari flags. Signs of gratitude were also fashioned and being held.

5:30pm:Three journalists, including two from AFP, who were arrested in Libya at the weekend by Gaddafi’s forces arrived in neighbouring Tunisia after being freed overnight.

5:05pm:The Libyan air force “no longer exists as a fighting force”, the commander of Royal Air Force operation has said. Air Vice Marshall, Greg Bagwell, on a visit to RAF airmen based at Gioia del Colle in Southern Italy, said that the allies could now operate ‘with near impunity’ over the skies of Libya. He went on: ‘We have the Libyan ground forces under constant observation and we attack them whenever they threaten civilians or attack population centres.’

4:43pm:France’s Juppe says coalition partners to meet on Tuesday in London

4:35pm:In Misrata, eyewitnesses say the polyclinic has been a focus for attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces. One person in the area has told the BBC: “They have managed to surround the polyclinic with snipers… These snipers have taken the high buildings that surround the clinic to shoot… and they’re shooting on sight, whoever tries to come in or out of the polyclinic.”

4:05pm: @NicRobertsonCNN : Govt officials taking journalists into east Tripoli are lost and can’t find the so-called damaged house. Just driving around.

3:45pm:The Misrata doctor who spoke to the BBC World Service said he was worried that ambulance wokers and doctors were also at risk from snipers. “Our hospital is overcrowded,” he added. “We are treating people on the floor. We have stopped counting injured people, we just count the dead. We are dealing something you cannot believe.” The doctor said he was in favour of air strikes by the international coalition, “because those [pro-Gaddafi] troops, when they hear the aircraft in the sky, they escape”.

3:40pm:A doctor in Misrata has told the BBC World Service that there are no pro-Gaddafi tanks in the city today, “because all the tanks have either escaped or been destroyed by the allied forces”. But he says the hospital where he works is still surrounded by snipers loyal to Col Gaddafi. “They are shooting anybody going in or coming out of the hospital. Until now we have four civilian dead.”

3:27pm:Fighting in Ajdabiya near the eastern front, where AFP says residents are fleeing, describing shelling, gunfire and houses set on fire.

3:21pm: The reports of sniper fire in Misrata followed accounts that international forces had launched new air strikes near the rebel-held western city. They reportedly targeted a base south of the city used by pro-Gaddafi forces

2:50pm: European Union governments agreed on Wednesday to impose sanctions on Libya’s National Oil Company

2:35pm: Turkey, which has voiced opposition to Nato taking a commanding role in the Libya mission, has offered a submarine and warships to help enforce the arms embargo off the North African country, according to a Nato general cited by AFP.

2:30pm: As expected, Nato ships have started patrolling off Libya to enforce an arms embargo, AP reports.

2:25pm: Reuters has more on the air strikes reported at Misrata. It says they hit a base for pro-Gaddafi forces south of the city.

2:21pm: The Benghazi-based National Transitional Council has taken the step of declaring a government, to be headed by former foreign envoy Mahmoud Jibril. Nisan Gouriani, spokesman for the council, speaks to Al Jazeera’s James Bays about the political development.

2:12pm: British Prime Minister David Cameron says Kuwait and Jordan will make a logistical contribution to the Libyan effort. He says there’s great concern about what’s happening in Misrata.

2:09pm: A Misrata resident tells Reuters that pro-Gaddafi snipers are firing on a hospital and that at least three people have been killed.

2:06pm: And a view from Russia, which abstained from UN Security Council vote on Resolution 1973, but has since criticised international action. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennadiy Gatilov tells parliament in Moscow: “We distanced ourselves from the support of military intervention with unpredictable results.” He added that prior to the adoption of the UNSC resolution on Libya, Russia had stressed such a decision should not be taken in a hurry, and had called for “using the political mechanisms that were already in place” to solve the crisis.

2:02pm: More on Libya from Turkish President Abdullah Gul: “It is important for Turkey that the situation in Libya ends without further bloodshed. Those who run Libya must step down immediately to ward off plunder of their country by others,” Mr Gul told reporters before his departure for Ghana from the Turkish capital, Ankara.

1:58pm: Zintan resident, quoted by Reuters: “Gaddafi’s brigades started bombardment from the northern area half an hour ago… The town is completely surrounded… They are getting reinforcements. Troops backed with tanks and vehicles are coming. We appeal to the allied forces to come and protect civilians.”

1:55pm:The Libyan rebels’ transitional national council has named Mahmoud Jabril to head an interim government and pick ministers. Mr Jabril is already in charge of a crisis committee to handle military and foreign affairs

1:50pm:The death toll on Tuesday from fighting in Misrata, where pro-Gaddafi forces were reported to be using shells and snipers, was 17, a doctor tells AFP. Five children were among those killed, the doctor says.

1:45pm:A resident in the western, rebel-held city of Zintan has told Reuters that pro-Gaddafi forces have resumed bombardment there.

1:43pm: Reuters has compiled a list of events that have happened to Date in the Battle for Libya

1:39pm:French government spokesman Francois Baroin has said Nato will have a “technical role” in the Libyan intervention, Reuters reports.

1:37pm:A spokesman for the newly formed “interim government”, declared by the transitional national council, tells Al Jazeera’s James Bays:

”The provisional national council is a legislative body, but we need an executive body to take control and provide an administration. Our position has been very clear, that Libya is one unit – our capital is Tripoli and will forever be Tripoli … We are striving to liberate the western parts of the country, and Tripoli, and keep the country united. We would like to emphasise this over and over again.”

1:35pm: The increasing focus on Misrata has highlighted some of the limitations of a no-fly zone, says a BBC corresponent, namely how to protect civilians in a confused city, rather than in the open desert. “One US commander acknowledged that international forces have been looking at options for Misrata, and reports of air strikes against Libyan government forces around the city may suggest a possible new phase of operations.”

1:30pm: So far in todays clashes in Misrata 14 have died and 28 injured

1:28pm:The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says there is “grave concern” for civilians in the areas of heavy fighting. It says medical needs are on the rise and that in addition to the 335,600 people who have fled Libya in recent weeks, there are reports that some 80,000 people have been displaced within the country.

1:08pm:From the BBC’s Grant Henderson: “3 RAF Typhoons and 2 RAF Tornados have taken off from Gioia del Colle airbase near Bari, southern Italy

1:04pm:More on the strikes in Misrata reported by Reuters: “The allied planes bombed twice so far. At 1245 (2245 GMT) this morning and then again less than two hours ago,” a resident tells the agency. “They (pro-Gaddafi forces) haven’t fired a single artillery (round) since the air strike.”

12:44pm:Coalition aircraft have launched two strikes against pro-Gaddafi forces in Misrata, Reuters reports.

12:35pm:General David Petraeus, the US general in charge of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, says he is not concerned that military action in Libya would divert resources from the war in Afghanistan

12:09pm: NATO warships – commanded from Naples, Italy, will begin patrolling Libya’s coast to enforce the UN arms embargo later today. The two flotilla will initially comprise two frigates, six minesweepers and a supply ship, a NATO official – unidentified under standing rules – told the Associated Press news agency.

11:30pm: The Battle for Benghazi

10:52AM: Here’s a quick recap of recent developments: Explosions and anti-aircraft fire have been heard in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for a fourth night; Col Gaddafi has given a defiant address to his supporters – the first time he’s appeared since international air strikes began; US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said figures close to Col Gaddafi are investigating possible options for exile; and coalition powers have been thrashing out a new command structure aimed at toning down US leadership.

10:42AM:On the subject of Col Gaddafi’s assets, it emerged on Tuesday that Libya had declared gold reserves worth more than $6bn at current prices. The gold could potentially be used by Gaddafi while his flow from oil sales and other trade is cut off due to fighting and international sanctions

10:36AM: Two young Libyans whose rap music is broadcast to the front line by rebel Benghazi radio hope they are helping to maintain the morale of fighters outgunned by Moamer Gaddafi’s forces. Read their story here.

10:30AM: Newsweek’s Barbie Nadeau on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa tells the BBC World Service that most of the migrants there have come from Tunisia and Egypt, but there has been a rise those arriving from Libya in the last couple of days. She says there are about 6,000 migrants on the island, which only has capacity for 850.

10:27AM: The fighting on the approach to Ajdabiya is centred around Zuwaytina, about 25km away. The BBC’s Ian Pannell reports that the town has been almost sealed off and is still being shelled by Col Gaddafi’s forces. But he points out that it’s hard for international forces to single out pro-Gaddafi forces there or in the western city of Misrata without risking collateral damage.

10:14AM: Sweden is the latest country to freeze assets belonging to Gaddafi’s administration. The Scandanavian country has seized 10 billion kronor (US$1.6 billion), it says, but officials say “it’s not impossible” there could be more hidden.

10:08AM: Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has faced a struggle to convince Filipino workers to leave Libya – with most preferring to stay than to return to their home country. Del Rosario escorted 31 Filipinos from Tripoli to the border with Tunisia earlier today, said the Phillipine department for foreign affairs. But some 1,600 of 2,000 Filipino nurses have decided to stay in Libya – along with about 100 Filipino professors – where the workers have been promised higher wages amid the violence. They say they face unemployment at home. Del Rosario led 400 Filipinos from Tripoli last month, says the Associated Press news agency.

9:54AM: Egypt’s highest Islamic authority, Al-Azhar, condemned Western military “aggression” in Libya but said it supported what it called the legitimate demands of the Libyan people’s revolution. Al-Azhar warned the United States and Britain against “dividing Libya and destroying its natural and human wealth, as happened in Iraq,” the state Al Ahram newspaper said. But the Cairo-based body also condemned Arab governments who oppressed citizens for decades. It said their leaders should not stay in office if that would lead to more bloodshed.

9:19AM: BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the question of who takes command over the mission in Libya appears a little closer to being resolved with the intervention of US President Obama, but there’s still an unedifying and distracting struggle going on over how the mission is framed politically.

9:09AM: The price tag for US involvement could easily run into hundreds of millions of dollars, says the AP news agency. It says that the cruise missiles – of which at least 162 have already been launched – have a price tag of between US$1million and US$1.5million each. The B2 bombers, which have been flying 25-hour round trips to Libya from Missouri, reportedly cost US$10,000 an hour, says the agency.

8:20am: US Navy Adm Samuel Locklear, the on-scene commander of allied forces, has said intelligence confirms that Col Gaddafi’s forces are attacking civilians in Misrata. The coalition was “considering all options”, he said without elaborating. Misrata is one of the cities that US President Barack Obama has demanded that government forces leave.

8:11am: A doctor in Misrata has said rebels in Libya’s third-largest city are vastly outgunned by troops loyal to Col Gaddafi. “The fighters are using primitive tools like swords, sticks and anything they get from the Gaddafi mercenaries,” he told the Associated Press. Mokhtar Ali, a Libyan dissident in exile who is still in touch which his family in Misrata, said snipers were firing at anyone on the street, and residents trapped inside had no idea who had been killed. “People live in total darkness in terms of communications and electricity,” he added. “Residents live on canned food and rainwater tanks.”

Interesting Numerical Coincidences about Gaddafi:

Gadaffi came to power in ’69 and he is 69 yrs old now (69-69=0)
Gadaffi was born in ’42 and has been in power for 42 years (42-42=0)
In 1973 Gaddafi proclaimed his cultural revolution of 1973 in the city of Zwara (a city he bombarded heavily this past week) and the UN Resolution was assigned No. 1973 (1973-1973=0)
In 1911 the people of Libya fought the Italians for freedom and WON , in 2011- the people are now fighting Gaddafi for freedom and will WIN (inA)

Looks like your time is up Gaddafi

7:13am: The US will hand over operations to NATO in the next few days, the Associated Press says. The US has been leading the military efforts so far, but has been keen to hand over the role to avoid further accusations of carrying out imperialist adventures in an oil-rich state.

The diplomatic and military deal depends on agreement from all 28 NATO members – including Turkey, which has been insisting on a narrow military mandate – and guarantees that no foreign occupation of the country will follow. US President Obama said:

When this transition takes place it is not going to be our planes that are maintaining the no-fly zone. It is not going to be our ships that are necessarily enforcing the arms embargo. That’s precisely what the other nations are going to do.

5:21am: Saadoun, a resident of Misrata, tells the BBC that there has been a daily pattern to the attacks by government forces. “The day starts with heavy shelling, and artillery fire through the city centre, and the residential areas,” he says. “The tanks will then pave the way for snipers to climb on the top of tall buildings in the city centre, and provide a good cover for the artillery, and for the tanks to enter, or to try to enter into the city centre.”

6:55am: Anti-aircraft fire has again been reported in Tripoli, just before dawn, following another tense night in the Libyan capital.

6:35am: AFP reporter Dave Clark (left), photographer Roberto Schmidt (right) and Getty Images photographer Joe Raedle(centre) arrive at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli, after they were released by the Libyan authorities earlier today.Four Al Jazeera journalists and crew are still being held in Libya.

File 17531

[Photo: Reuters]

6:43am: More on the loud explosions heard by CNN’s Nic Robertson. Nic tweets: “Two attacks in Tripoli loud explosions twice in early hours, about 5.30am and 6.15am local, targets not immediately clear… Explosions sound like coming from western side of city, large military base in that direction. Sound of fighter jets heard also… Early morning raids draw limited anti-aircraft response.”

6:21am: A group of around 20 activists have held a protest in central Seoul, in opposition to the airstrikes in Libya. Protest leader Choi Chang-joon said:

The US intervention in Libya is an act of interference in the domestic affairs of Libya, starting with the US ambitions. They set up a no-fly zone to protect their air strikes. Civilians have been killed, so they should stop the bombing as quickly as possible.

Video: Anderson Cooper interviewed a man in Misrata this evening. The man discusses the bombing and attacks by tanks and snipers killing families, civilians and childrens while also destroying homes. Watch here:

5:59am : The Pentagon says that of Tuesday, the US military had flown 212 aerial missions over Libya, while 124 had been flown by other coalition forces. A total of 108 air strikes had been carried out and 162 Tomahawk missiles had been fired, it adds.

5:50am: Feb 17 voices tweets: “LPC from #Tripoli: six consecutive explosions just heard in eastern Tripoli near Tajoura. #Libya #Feb17″

Video: If you were wondering what it would look like to see missiles launched from a Tomahawk cruise- watch this video. Tomahawk Cruise Missiles launched Operation Odyssey (March 21).

5:21am: Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch says the coalition’s air and missile strikes are of limited use in places such as Misrata. “When there’s fighting in urban areas and combatants are mixing and mingling with civilians, the options are vastly reduced,” he explains. “I can imagine the pressures and desires to protect civilians in Misrata and Ajdabiya are bumping up against the concerns about causing harms to the civilians you seek to protect.”

5:18am: Forces loyal to Col Gaddafi are terrorising civilians in Libya’s third city, Misrata, residents have told the Associated Press. Residents said the shelling and sniper attacks were unrelenting. “The number of dead is too many for our hospital to handle,” a doctor said. As for food, he said: “We share what we find and if we don’t find anything, which happens, we don’t know what to do.”

4:55am: President Obama, during a visit to El Salvador on Tuesday, praised the US military’s involvement in Libya, calling it effective.

We have already saved lives in Benghazi, a city of 700,000 people. You had the prospect of Gaddafi’s forces carrying out his orders to show no mercy. That could have resulted in catastrophe.”

4:55am: President Barack Obama has said he’s confident the US will soon be able to hand over control of the Libyan military operation to an international coalition. Robert Hunter, a former US ambassador to Nato, tells the BBC it is a bit “unseemly to see the Nato allies squabbling with one another. It doesn’t have an impact on operations, but it does make the alliance look like it is in disarray.”

4:25am: Nic Robertson, a senior international correspondent at CNN, says locals from around Misrata have been periodically approaching roadsides on the outskirts of the city to see the damage caused by the conflict. He says people may be trying to take a peek at the fighting because state television is not showing images of conflict, but rather showing footage of Libyans waving their country’s flag.

4:18am: More on the three journalists that were released: Shortly before the three journalists’ release, a spokesman for Col Gaddafi told AFP the Libyan leader had received an appeal from the news agency and had asked the government to free the trio. They “were treated very well indeed”, spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said.

3:10AM: Live caller from Misrata describes the situation in the city, talks about captured mercenaries on March 22 via Feb17Voices.

2:47AM: Three journalists, including two AFP news agency staff, who had been held by Col Gaddafi’s forces since the weekend have been freed in Tripoli, an AFP journalist says.

2:25AM: President Barack Obama tells US broadcaster CNN that Libya’s leader may try to tough out the assault on his forces. “Gaddafi may try to hunker down and wait it out even in the face of the no-fly zone, even though his forces have been degraded,” he said.

2:05AM: Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught in Tripoli says Gaddafi’s televised address may not have been broadcast live as state TV runs a lot of recycled material, and no busloads of foreign journalists were brought to his palace to witness the event.

2:02AM: The UN is preparing to bring more aid into Libya. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards says the agency will send truckloads of goods to Benghazi on Wednesday, including 5,000 blankets and 5,000 sleeping mats. ”Providing humanitarian assistance under current circumstances is very challenging,” he said.”There are reported shortages of medical supplies and basic commodities in the eastern part of the country, with prices having increased dramatically.” The UN World Food Programme plans to move 19 tons of lentils and 11 tons of vegetable oil in the next two days from Egypt into eastern Libya.

1:46AM: Here is a screen grab from Muammar Gaddafi’s appearance this evening on Libyan State TV at his in Bab El Azizi complex near Tripoli:

1:13AM: The Dutch government has said it will deploy six F-16 fighter jets, a refueling plane and a navy minesweeper to help enforce the arms embargo against Libya. The defense minister, Hans Hillen, said the F-16s would be available within a few days while the minesweeper, HMS Haarlem, already is in the Mediterranean.

1:05AM: Col Gaddafi’s words earlier today purportedly in front of his damaged Bab Al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli: “I do not fear storms that sweep the horizon, nor do I fear the planes that throw black destruction. I am resistant, my house is here in my tent […] I am the rightful owner, and the creator of tomorrow. I, I am here! I am here! I am here!”.

12:48AM: Barack Obama will cut short his trip to Latin America by two hours to fly home early to meet with his security team about the conflict in Libya, the White House says, according to AFP.

12:38AM: Hillary Clinton says people purporting to represent Col Gaddafi have been in contact with US officials. “A lot of it is just the way he behaves. It’s somewhat unpredictable. But some of it, we think, is exploring. You know, what are my options? where could I go? what could I do? And we would encourage that, their options,” she tells ABC news.

12:23AM: Hillary Clinton says that though she heard reports that one of Col Gaddafi’s sons had been killed, the “evidence is not sufficient” to confirm this. She told ABC that it was not US forces that would have killed him.

12:17AM:The US president says the Libyan people face potential threats from Col Gaddafi if he remains in power. Unless Col Gaddafi is willing to step down, “there are still going to be potential threats toward the Libyan people,” he says, Reuters report.

12:11AM: U.S. Secretary of State Clinton tells ABC that U.S. believes Gaddafi may be exploring exile options, but unclear if he is serious.

12:07AM: Germany is withdrawing ships and air crews in the Mediterranean Sea from various long-running Nato operations following the military alliance’s decision to enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya, according to the Associated Press news agency. Berlin isn’t participating in the operation to impose a no-fly zone in Libya and abstained on the U.N. resolution authorizing it.

U.S. Won’t Take Part in Post-Gadhafi Peacekeeping

WASHINGTON—U.S. military planners say they believe a post-Gadhafi Libya may require an international force to keep the peace, but the Obama administration has made clear to its allies that they shouldn’t expect American troops to participate.

With rebel fighters backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization air power apparently on the verge of toppling Col. Moammar Gadhafi, talks are under way about winding down the NATO mission and putting international efforts under a United Nations umbrella, U.S. officials said.

“I don’t see much of a role for the U.S. military in postconflict Libya,” said a senior U.S. military official.

The U.S. and its allies want to avoid any appearance that NATO would be responsible for Libya should Col. Gadhafi’s regime fall. And they want any postconflict stabilization presence to be backed by the Transitional National Council, which represents opposition groups fighting to overthrow the colonel.

The Obama administration hopes the rebel council will be able to provide sufficient security in Tripoli and other areas, but military officials believe a peacekeeping presence may be unavoidable, depending on how the security situation evolves in the coming days and weeks.

Already engaged in two costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. believes the U.N. or another multinational coalition could take the lead in any post-Gadhafi stabilization efforts, said senior U.S. military officials and a senior Western diplomat working closely with the Americans.

From the start of the conflict in Libya, President Barack Obama has ruled out putting American troops on Libyan soil, and he pressured European allies to spearhead attacks from the air. Since leading the initial strikes against Col. Gadhafi’s loyalists, the U.S. has largely played a back-seat role, providing intelligence, unmanned aircraft and other logistical support for an air campaign dominated by the French, British and other NATO members.

After a weekend of fast-moving events in Libya, Obama administration officials stressed on Monday that the president still intends to keep the U.S. military role at a minimum. “We aren’t going to put boots on the ground,” an Obama administration official said.

A Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. will continue to fly surveillance and refueling missions in the days ahead.

A senior U.S. military officer said “a multinational coalition led by someone else” may well be “prudent.”

Washington’s reluctance to play an on-the-ground military role reflects domestic concerns about high war costs and a weak economy, as well as U.S. worries that the security situation could deteriorate, drawing an already-stretched American military into another protracted conflict.

Obama administration officials say post-Gadhafi planning is picking up pace and, other than saying they have no intention to participate in a peacekeeping force, they have made no final decisions about the way forward. “It is time to start thinking about next steps,” said another senior U.S. defense official.

Mr. Obama has recognized the rebel council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya, and officials want the group to lead any stabilization effort. “This is a Libya-led operation; they will be calling the shots,” a senior Obama administration official said of the rebel leaders. “We’re obviously in close contact with them at various levels on an ongoing basis, but this is their mission.”

The rebel council has so far resisted the idea of an international stabilization force, and officials say one might not be needed depending on how the conflict plays out.

Despite U.S. rejection of an overt military presence inside Libya, officials said the U.S. would support any stabilization effort by supplying equipment, as well as by rushing aid to the transitional Libyan authorities.

The U.S. military would like to establish a security-assistance presence in a new Libya. This could include military-liaison officers, as well as American trainers who would work with Libyan security forces, officials said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and Libyan rebels still have to address outstanding legal issues before the Obama administration will release billions of dollars in frozen Gadhafi regime assets to the fledgling government, a Treasury official said Monday.

“All property and interests in property of the Gadhafi regime and others sanctioned by Treasury remain blocked, and all transactions involving the Gadhafi regime and persons who are included on the [Specially Designated Nationals] List continue to be prohibited,” the official said.

“We will continue to consult with the TNC and our international partners on the most effective and appropriate method of making additional significant financial assistance available to the TNC,” the official said.

The Treasury Department has frozen $37 billion in Libyan assets since February.

—Jeffrey Sparshott and Nathan Hodge contributed to this article.

Libyan Rebels Gain Control of Oil Refinery as Qaddafi Forces Flee

By By KAREEM FAHIM
ZAWIYAH, Libya — Rebel fighters gained complete control on Thursday of the oil refinery in Zawiyah — just a half hour’s drive from Tripoli, the country’s capital — routing government soldiers after days of battle and advancing into other parts of this strategic port city still controlled by loyalists of Libya’s increasingly isolated leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Employees at the large refinery complex here, which appeared to be undamaged by the fighting, said the remaining pockets of Qaddafi soldiers who had been defending the refinery were driven out overnight. A rebel commander said 5,000 rebel fighters were deployed around the refinery. Rebel sentries manning checkpoints could be seen on a drive around the complex on Thursday, and the discarded green uniforms of Libyan national army soldiers littered the grounds — signs of desertion by the Qaddafi defenders.

The fight for Zawiyah represents a possibly decisive moment in the six-month-old rebellion against Colonel Qaddafi, the quixotic leader whose four-decade-old rule in Libya has been challenged by the tide of antigovernment uprisings that have spread through the Arab world, upending the autocrats of Tunisia and Egypt and threatening regimes elsewhere, including Syria and Yemen.

A rebel was carried into a clinic near Zawiyah, where government forces are fighting for control.

Colonel Qaddafi has rejected calls to step down and defied defections by subordinates, increased economic and political isolation and NATO air assaults. The rebels themselves have suffered from internal dissension and lack of training. But there have been increasing signs that Colonel Qaddafi’s Tripoli stronghold is fracturing. People fleeing the capital said Wednesday that there was no electricity, and that prices of basic goods have soared amid shortages.

Rebel fighters interviewed at the Zawiyah complex said some Qaddafi loyalists had tried to escape in two boats docked at the refinery port, and that NATO fighter jets had bombed the boats. There was no immediate corroboration of their account from NATO.

Parts of the refinery grounds showed clear signs of battle, with destroyed vehicles and buildings hit by rocket and machine gun fire. Some squads of rebel fighters were seen building defensive berms in anticipation of a counterattack by the Qaddafi forces.

The rebel seizure of the refinery followed a mass departure of civilian refugees from Zawiyah, where sniper and artillery fire from the pro-Qaddafi forces made the escape especially hazardous.

About 2,000 families from Zawiyah, Tripoli and other cities near the fighting on the Libyan coast passed through one rebel checkpoint on Wednesday, according to rebel officials registering the names. Cars and trucks, piled high with refrigerators and other household items, filled a road to the Nafusah Mountains.

For the past week, Libya’s rebels have undertaken a broad offensive with local fighters to seize strategic towns in a bid to shift the course of the stalled war. Their gains have been hard to tally: reports of towns falling to the rebels are frequently amended hours later.

An American official said Wednesday that the United States had deployed two more Predator drones for surveillance operations over Libya, further increasing the pressure on Qaddafi’s forces, according to Reuters. The drones arrived earlier this week, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It was not immediately clear how many American drones had been deployed for the NATO mission so far.

As rebel officials chased rumors of high-level defections from Colonel Qaddafi’s inner circle, his government confirmed on Tuesday that a senior security official had left. The Libyan government’s chief spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, said that the official, Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah, who flew to Cairo on a private plane on Monday, had suffered “social and emotional pressures” before his defection.

The fighting on Wednesday continued in cities that dot the western mountains, including Gheryan in the east and Tiji in the west. Heavy fighting was also reported in Sabratha, on the coast, and doctors who worked in Surman said that city was under rebel control.

By the early afternoon, doctors at a clinic in Bir Muammar, about six miles from the front lines, said three rebels had been killed in the day’s fighting.

Source: New York Times