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 (GMT +2).
That’s it for Live Coverage on March 24, 2011. — stay tuned on the homepage for Live Updates on March 25.
AJ correspondent James Bays reports on the desperate conditions for people who have chosen to stay in Ajdabiya, a city which has been fought over for more than two weeks.
China reaches out to Germany on Libya: Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi laid out China’s “principled stance” about the U.N.-authorized military campaign against the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during a telephone call on Thursday with the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry website (www.mfa.gov.cn).
Westerwelle will visit China next week for talks that appear sure to cover the crisis in Libya. Although Beijing and Berlin have often traded barbs on human rights, trade and security, they have found some common ground in shared misgivings about the Western air campaign against Gaddafi.
Libyan television footage shows a serious fire after allied air attacks on what the TV report said was a military base in the capital, Tripoli, badly damaging military vehicles. Wonder who actually caused this fire.
Today, at least 18 doctors and nurses from an organization funded by US AID arrived in Beghazi today.
Omar Ahmed Sodani, the man suspected of murdering PC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984, has been arrested by rebel forces in the country and is in custody in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
PC Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot outside the Libyan embassy in London in April 1984 and died shortly after. Photograph: PA
2:08AM: EU Council President Herman von Rompuy after talks in Brussels: “From the beginning of the crisis, the European Union was at the forefront imposing tough sanctions. Today we decided that we are ready to adopt further sanctions, including measures to ensure that oil and gas revenues do not reach the Gaddafi
regime. Member states will ask the United Nations to do the same.”
2:05AM: Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, in Tripoli, says the lives of the Libyans are getting “harder by the day” as many petrol stations and shops are shut and many people stay at home because they fear airstrikes.
1:48AM: French President Nicolas Sarkozy says international action in Libya must “remain eminently political”, whatever Nato’s role, AFP reports. Mr Sarkozy also claims that international action has saved “thousands and thousands” of lives.
1:27AM:Here’s a full quote from Hillary Clinton’s recent statement: “Nato is well suited to co-ordinating this international effort and insuring that all participating nations are working effectively together towards our shared goals. This coalition includes countries beyond Nato, including Arab partners, and we expect all of them to be providing important political guidance going forward.”
1:04AM: Secretary Clinton says that “in only five days, we have made significant progress”. She also said that Gadhafi forces remain a “serious threat” to Libyan civilians. She notes that the US has agreed to a transition of the no-fly zone to NATO, but will also involve other nations including Arab nations, that the coalition is in control of the skies above Libya, and that humanitarian relief beginning to reach people, including a group of medics in Benghazi.
12:38AM: A US official has told AFP that the United Arab Emirates has contributed 12 warplanes to the military coalition over Libya.
12:33AM: The Nato chief said the organisation had agreed to enforce a no-fly zone in order to protect civilians. He said Nato’s mandate did not go beyond that, though it could act in self-defense, Reuters reports.
12:03AM: A video released by the Misrata Freedom Group used to prove that the Misrata port is now free of any Gaddafi forces. Summary below the video:
The speaker is giving today’s date, saying the port is NOT in the hands of Gaddafi’s troops as per some news sources and that supplies should start coming in since the port is in the hands of the good guys. He also says that they should come and transport the non libyans waiting in the port area to get out.
11:37PM: No deal on Nato taking over the leadership role for military action against Libya – it appears Turkey remains unhappy at the terms being proposed and has objected, so a deal is still being worked out tonight.
11:33PM: Libyan state television says Western air strikes targeted residential and military areas in the capital Tripoli and Tajoura. It did not specify whether it was referring to the Tripoli district of Tajoura. Reuters reporters in central Tripoli heard a distant explosion followed by rounds of anti-aircraft and tracer fire above the capital.
10:42pm:There are no signs that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s government is complying with U.N. Security Council demands for an immediate cease-fire, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday. Read what else he had to say here.
10:15pm:The Pentagon spokesman says 350 aircraft – half of them American – are involved in operations over Libya, and that there is no evidence that any civilian casualties have been caused by these missions; however, he adds, there are suggestions that attacks by regime forces have caused civilian casualties.
10:12pm:A Pentagon spokesman, briefing reporters in Washington, says: “Let me be clear – when and where regime forces threaten the lives of civilians they will be attacked… Our message to the regime troops is simple – stop fighting, stop obeying Colonel Gaddafi’s orders
9:38pm:Six F-16’s from the Netherlands have arrived on the Italian island of Sardinia. The jets will be patrolling the Mediterranean to enforce the arms-embargo against Libya. They will not take part in combat missions
9:22pm: Libyan rebels plead — send us guns. One Libyan man says: ”We need arms and ammunition. This is our only problem,” he said in a briefing. “Our friends are trying to support us. I hope soon we will have success and we will have all the weapons we need to liberate Libya.” Read the story here
8:45PM: Turkey’s foreign minister is being quoted as saying Nato will take command of the Libya operation, AP reports. He has told TRT television that Turkey’s demands had been met and Nato will take command of the Libya military operation. Nato needs the approval of all its members and Turkey had set conditions. So far there is no independent confirmation of the statement.
8:29PM: At least 109 people have been killed in the rebel-held city of Misurata and more than 1,300 wounded in a week of attacks by forces loyal to Gaddafi, a doctor in the city told AFP news agency. The doctor working in Misurata’s state hospital said on condition of anonymity:
Attacks by Gaddafi forces since last Friday have killed 109 people and wounded 1,300 others, 81 of whom are in serious condition.
On Thursday alone “four martyrs fell because of sniper fire,” he added.
7:56PM: Coalition tells opposition forces it will secure safe passage for aid ships from Malta to Misrata to dock, according to Reuters. Reuters also quotes a member of the opposition as claiming a major success – killing 30 government snipers in Misrata. He also says that all Libyan government military vessels have abandoned the port.
7:51PM: Read our expert’s military opinion of recent videos here.
7:42PM:The African Union has invited representatives of Colonel Gaddafi’s government, the Libyan opposition and others to talks in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa this Friday, Reuters quotes AU chairman Jean Ping as saying.
7:39PM: Rebels are in striking distance of the gates of Ajdabiya in their attempt to retake the strategic eastern town from government troops, AFP reports. One of the agency’s journalists says hundreds of fighters are marching on the city, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the rebels’ stronghold.
7:20 pm: “This may be a first for the Arab world: An American airman who bailed out over Libya was rescued from his hiding place in a sheep pen by villagers who hugged him, served him juice and thanked him effusively for bombing their country…”.
6:45pm: In Turkey, parliament approves government decision to participate in NATO naval operation off of Libya.
6:32pm: French Officials confirm that French warplanes have destroyed a Libyan plane which had been flying in breach of the UN no-fly zone. The plane, a smaller trainer aircraft, had just landed in the besieged city of Misrata when it was attacked, they say.It is the first incident of its kind since enforcement of the zone began.
ABC News reported earlier that the Libyan warplane that was allegedly shot down by French fighter jets today was a Galeb, single-engine military aircraft. To learn more about Galeb aircrafts read here.
5:45pm: Detained government soldiers and suspected mercenaries are kept in a former military prison near Benghazi, now taken over by rebels. Some of the men admit to serving with Gaddafi’s forces, but say they had no other choice, but to fire at rebels and civilians during battles for cities in the east of the country:
Abul Majid Mohammed, who served in the Al Fadila Battalion of the army, told Reuters news agency:
If anybody refused to open fire they would kill them, or burn them alive and on our eyes they killed soldiers who refused to fight.
5:25pm: An unnamed US official tells AP news agency a French fighter jet which reportedly shot down a Libyan plane may have been a military trainer aircraft. He says the Libyan plane may have been landing at the time of the attack.
5:15pm: The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has told the Associated Press news agency that he is “100%” certain that his investigation into attacks on Libyan protesters will lead to crimes against humanity charges against Col Gaddafi’s government.
5:06pm: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said in Tel Aviv that the Arab uprisings will prove positive in “long-run”.
“We will provide ambulances or humanitarian aid. We will not take part in actions on the ground in Libya”
Adwan comment comes a day after British prime minister David Cameron said Kuwait and Amman will provide “logistic contributions”.
4:25pm: The French defence ministry says it will not confirm ABC reports of a Libyan plane being shot down. They say they’ll put out a bulletin later on all today’s operations, and are withholding info for now “to avoid the misreporting of events that are still unclear”.
4:19pm: Sixty-four per cent of Russians don’t back the international military action in Libya, according to an opinion poll in that country. Russia abstained in last week’s UN Security Council vote, which paved the way for intervention.
4:10pm: Italy could offer warships and more planes for operations in Libya on top of four Tornado bombers and four F-16 fighter jets it has already deployed, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa says, according to AFP news agency.
4:05pm: Libyan state TV continues its pro-Gaddafi coverage, emphasising its claim that coalition air strikes have targeted innocent civilians in Tripoli and elsewhere, and people were now invited to funeral prayers for these “martyrs”. The allies say civilians have been spared in the air raids.
3:53pm: Latest on that ABC News report about a Libyan air force jet shot down for violating no-fly zone: it was a single-engine Galeb, apparently. Still no confirmation of that report.
3:49pm: Six Dutch F-16’s are about to depart from the Netherlands to the Italian island of Sardinia, from where they will be part of the international alliance enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. The Dutch ministry of defence stresses that the jets will not be used for attack purposes.
3:42pm: A Tripoli resident, unnamed for obvious reasons, tells BBC’s Newshour: “I’m not exaggerating if I say tens of thousands of young people are arrested. Look, we cannot even now stay close to each other, three or four people, for a couple of minutes talking or chatting, I mean it’s very dangerous.
2:58pm: Heba in London writes: “As a fellow Libyan national, it is heart-rending what I see in my country. The everyday murdering of my countrymen by Gaddafi’s people is to be condemned. We fully support the international “no-fly zone”, this is the only chance for us to survive. We need to work on breaking down Gaddafi’s arms and his military capabilities, even if it takes weeks.” Have Your Say
2:49pm: Mr Hague tells the House: “It is not for us to choose the government of Libya – that is for the Libyan people themselves. But they have a far greater chance of making that choice now than seemed likely on Saturday, when the opposition forces were on the verge of defeat and the lives of so many were in danger.”
2:48pm: UK forces have undertaken 59 aerial missions over Libyan in addition to air and missile strikes. Operations are being carried out under US control, says Mr Hague, but Britain wants to see a “transition to NATO command and control as quickly as possible”
2:39pm: British Foreign Secretary William Hague is giving a statement to the House of Commons on the unrest. He says the intervention remains utterly compelling. “Appalling violence against Libyan civilians continues to take place, exposing the regime’s claim to have ordered a ceasefire to be an utter sham,” says Mr Hague. He adds that there has been “universal condemnation of what the Libyan regime is doing”, from the UN, Arab League, African Union and EU. “The regime’s action is strengthening our resolve to continue our current operations and our support for the work of the International Criminal Court. Our action is saving lives and is protecting hundreds of thousands of civilians in Benghazi and Misrata from the fate that otherwise awaited them”. Coalition troops are “taking the utmost care to minimise the risk of civilian casualties,” says Mr Hague. “The only forces acting indiscriminately or deliberately inflicting civilian casualties are the forces of the Gaddafi regime”.
2:30pm: The BBC’s World Affairs correspondent John Simpson, says reporting restrictions mean it is very hard to tell from Tripoli what is going on elsewhere in the country. But he says people in government appear to have become more confident that Col Gaddafi and the system can survive, at least in Tripoli and the surrounding areas. “That’s something new, because I’m sure a few days ago they were very much less secure in the their own minds.”
2:07pm: A Libyan energy officials tells Reuters the country is low on fuel and needs imports to deal with the shortages. The official told Reuters a ship was on its way to Libya with fuel but could be stopped or bombed by the coalition action.
1:59pm: The BBC’s Christian Fraser in Paris says French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet was careful to define the limits of the coalition’s powers in his press conference earlier. Mr Longuet urged coalition partners to remain patient with the operation, telling them “We must stay calm. We have the means to carry on. Col Gaddafi does not.”
1:55pm: Mohamed, at a polyclinic in Misrata, has just told the BBC: “We are without running water, electricity and communications for the tenth day now. My heart is broken by the carnage I have seen. Four boys died in my neighbourhood and I had to go to the funerals. I feel for them. But I feel a sense of freedom that I have never felt in Libya.”
1:30pm: French military official Thierry Burkhard has told reporters a coalition strike overnight hit an air base 250km (155 miles) south of Libya’s coastline, the deepest strike into the country so far. Mr Burkhard did not say where exactly the strike took place but said it had threatened the population and that he was certain there had been no “collateral damage”. “The Libyan army is regrouping and reorganising,” he said. “But obviously we can stay that a massive capacity of the Libyan army has been degraded, reduced and weakened.”
1:26pm: The head of Nato’s naval blockade of Libya, Italian Vice Adm Rinaldo Veri, has said the operation is cutting off the “easiest, fastest and most direct way” for people to bring weapons into Libya. “I hope we can close all the windows, but one thing is sure: we are closing the main front door,” he told reporters. Vice Adm Veri said the mission would use “every means necessary” to keep weapons from reaching Libya. “If we suspect a ship is attempting to breach the embargo it may be necessary to send armed military aboard. If we encounter resistance, the use of force may be necessary,” he said.
1:17pm: British Prime Minister David Cameron commented that the remits of the UN resolution must not be exceeded was in response to a question about whether Col Gaddafi was a legitimate target for coalition attacks, Reuters reports. Mr Cameron also said the military intervention had “helped to avoid a slaughter” in Benghazi.
1:12pm: France’s Defence Minister Gerard Longuet has said the military intervention makes no sense if it is not paired with political intervention. “The military intervention is there because we have a political project. It is to discuss and build a different future for the Libyan people,” he said. Mr Longuet said the foreign powers were not “masters of this situation” and did not have a deadline. The aim of the coalition, he said, was to “encourage the emergence of a dialogue: a Libyan dialogue”.
1:08pm: China has called on all sides to observe a ceasefire in Libya. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the aim of the UN resolution – which Beijing abstained from voting on – was “to provide humanitarian protection rather than creating an even greater humanitarian crisis”. She said the “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Libya should be respected”.
1:01pm: In an on-screen caption, Libya’s Al-Jamahiriya state TV says civilian and military sites in Tripoli’s Tajura district are “now being subjected to bombing by the colonialist, crusader aggressor”.
12:56pm: Kim Sengupta of the Independent newspaper is in the rebel-stronghold of Benghazi and has been making regular visits to the front line. He told the BBC World Service the rebels are poorly organisation and lacking in military skill. “Frankly, they have not shown much inclination to take on the enemy. They have, probably, spent about four times as much of the ammunition firing into the air than they have fired in anger. They are not trained fighters.”
12:47pm: Residents of Misrata have told Reuters the city is facing a “humanitarian crisis” after the port was reportedly seized by pro-Gaddafi troops. “There are more than 6,000 Egyptian workers, some with their families, plus some African workers, who are now in the port. They went there waiting for a ship to move them but nobody is coming,” said one man. The witness said the regime had sent two warships and several boats to the port. “They have besieged us from from the sea,” he said. “They haven’t attacked but if they do, the thousands of workers will be the first victims.”
12:42pm: The BBC’s John Simpson in Tripoli says Libya still appears to be divided between the east and the west. The rebels have “all the enthusiasm in the world”, he says, but do not have the organisation or weapons of the regime. The pro-Gaddafi troops, however, have weapons but don’t have the same mass support or spirit.
12:28pm:The BBC’s Jon Sopel at the allied air hub of Giola del Colle, in Italy, says yesterday’s coalition claim they control the skies above Libya makes it all the more interesting that there were fresh cruise missile strikes overnight, apparently targeting Libyan air defences. He says it would seem the allies have found some threat remains.BBC correspondent also spoke to an RAF Tornado pilot, who said air superiority in Libya will allow those jets to fly safer at a much lower altitude and identify Gaddafi tanks on the ground to attack.
11:28am: Reuters photographer Goran Tomasevic snapped this photograph on Monday. It shows a rebel gunman at a checkpoint aiming his AK-47 at a man protecting another man who the fighter believes is a Gaddafi sympathizer, and shows how fluid the situation in Libya can be.
11:24am: Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley follows up on the story of Ahmed Mohammed, a boy shot in the chest during Gaddafi’s final push on Benghazi on Saturday morning, before Western warplanes began enforcing the no-fly, no-drive zone:
11:11am: Libyan state Al-Jamahiriya TV says in regular news broadcast that “civilian and military” targets in Tripoli were bombed after dawn today by allied forces. The report showed footage of people injured in hospital and some body bags with what appeared to be corpses, one apparently an older woman. The pictures can’t be independently verified.
11:05am: Al Jazeera’s Lawrence Lee says 28 ambassadors to NATO have just begun their fourth-straight day of negotiations to determine whether and how NATO can assume command of the military intervention against Gaddafi.
10:43am: Tunisia has joined the United States and European Union in freezing Libyan assets, an anonymous Tunisian government source told Reuters today. Tunisia froze assets belong to Gaddafi and five of his family members.
10:29am:The top NATO military commander, US admiral James Stavridis, is in Turkey today, the AP reports. He is meeting with high-ranking military officers a day after discussing operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Objections by Turkey, a NATO member, are reported to be one reason why the western military alliance has not been able to agree about taking over command of the military campaign against the Gaddafi regime.
9:55am:The Telegraph newspaper’s Rob Crilly wrote a short dispatch last night from Benghazi, describing the effort by rebels to root out Gaddafi “sleeper cells” in the area. Young gunmen haul three men and a woman from a car at a roadblock at night, beat them, interrogate them and take them away to an “uncertain fate”.
9:56AM:Libya’s fairly tight-lipped opposition national council has opened up, or at least one of its members has. US-educated Ali Tarhouni, the newly appointed finance minister for the council, spoke with reporters last night and revealed that the rebel army consists of only around 1,000 trained men. (He apparently didn’t mention how many untrained volunteers are involved in the fighting.) Until now, the opposition has kept military details under wraps. Tarhouni admitted shortcomings in the rebel’s pell-mell ascent to power in the east. Tarhouni also said the rebels don’t have a cash crisis, despite being cut off from Tripoli. Countries have agreed to give the rebels credit, including the United Kingdom, which will give $1.1 billion, he claimed.
9:33AM:The BBC’s John Simpson in Tripoli says there have been explosions overnight in the Libyan capital. One particularly loud blast came from the direction of a military base. He says there are also suggestions Gaddafi tanks and artillery have resumed their assault under cover of darkness on rebel-held Misrata.
More than 290,000 people have fled Libya due to the conflict there, and another 600,000 still inside the country are in need of humanitarian assistance, the International Medical Corps said in a statement released on Tuesday. Libya’s border with Tunisia remains closed, but IMC is sending supplies through. In the east, IMC is still trying to reach Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, the scene of fighting for the past week. A team from Doctors Without Borders, which left Libya last week as Gaddafi’s forces neared Benghazi, is waiting for a guarantee from all parties “that medical staff will be respected and allowed to work freely” before it returns.
8:23AM: NATO member states will meet again in Brussels later on Thursday, after a third day of negotiations failed to agree on who will direct the military operation in Libya when the US relinquishes control. France is still resisting pressure to place NATO in full command. David Schenker, who directs the program on Arab politics at the Washington Institute, has told the BBC: “It’s an odd dynamic. You have the French trying to set up an unprecedented war council, including the input of the Arab countries. I think that you will hear a lot of complaints from the US Congress about chain of command, about whether this is NATO, whether we should be part of this.”
7:41AM: Sixty percent of Americans support the allied military action in Libya to impose a no-fly zone to protect civilians, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday has found. Of those polled, 48% described President Barack Obama’s military leadership as “cautious and consultative”, 36% as “indecisive and dithering”, and 17% as “strong and decisive”. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed said the US and its allies should try to remove Col Gaddafi. But only 7% supported deploying ground troops.
7:13AM: Libyan regime officials took journalists on a trip yesterday to the town of Bani Walid, around 150km southeast of Tripoli, to demonstrate support for Gaddafi in the area, according to the AP. The Warfalla tribe, Libya’s largest, is strong in Bani Walid. Some residents told reporters they had recently received weapons from the regime, which has also distributed money to the Warfalla, according to western intelligence sources, the AP said.
6:05AM: Libyan officials took journalists to a Tripoli hospital early on Thursday to see what they said were the charred bodies of 18 military personnel and civilians killed by Western warplanes or missiles overnight.
5:53AM: A doctor in Misrata told the Associated Press that the air strikes had targeted an aviation academy and a vacant lot outside the central hospital. He also said Col Gaddafi’s tanks had left the western city afterwards, giving residents a much-needed reprieve. “Today, for the first time in a week, the bakeries opened their doors,” he added.
5:51AM:The Libyan Transitional council has released new statement on march 23 read here
5:34AM:Coalition aircraft attacked a fuel depot in Tripoli on Wednesday night, Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim has told reporters, according to the Associated Press. Other targets on Wednesday were near Benghazi and Misrata, Mr Kaim said.
Mr Kaim also condemned the air and missile strikes for not differentiating between civilians and military personnel. “To start up the national dialogue and get life back to normal, the air strikes should stop immediately,” he added. “Today, there have not been any attacks from Libyan forces, from the air or from the ground. And there are no military operations on the ground in Misrata. The situation is just confined to a number of pockets of violence and snipers scattered in different areas of Misrata.”
Map: Current Developments in the unrest in Libya
4:24 am:Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim has denied allegations that the government has cut off water and electricity supplies to Misurata. “We heard those rumours that the government has intentionally cut off supplies,” said . “It’s just a technical problem because of damage and looting.”
Misurata residents say the city is under attack by government forces who have severed their basic supplies and effectively besieged the last major opposition holdout in western Libya.
Omar al-Mislati, planning manager for the state water company, said up to 70,000 out of 300,000 people in Misurata had no access to water due a technical problem and damage caused by some of the fighting.
Live call from Misrata via Feb17voices:
A doctor in the city says “Tank fired on building ‘very close’ (10-20m) to hospital, states hospital has power, a generator.”
3:34am: ABC Radio in Australia Reports: A man from Misurata says the town is suffering & running out of supplies. Listen:
3:19am:More on that reported explosion in Tripoli. Residents tell Reuters: “We heard another explosion just now. We see smoke rising. There are people on rooftops. It seems to be in a military area near the engineering college.