Tripoli Street is a bullet-scarred wasteland — littered with charred cars and tanks, its cafes and offices shattered. Yet for Misrata’s civilians-turned-fighters, the boulevard is a prized trophy, paid for in blood, won with grit and guile.
In this April 23, 2011 file photo, Libyan rebel fighters run across a street in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya
It took five weeks of fierce street battles — on rooftops, in alleyways — for Misrata’s inexperienced rebels to wrest control of their city’s commercial heart from forces loyal to Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Up against armored units and professional sniper squads, they turned bottles, tires and trailer trucks into tools of war.
When they finally succeeded in pushing government forces out of Libya’s third-largest city in late April, it was the greatest head-to-head military victory yet in the uprising that threatens Gadhafi’s 42-year hold on power. The opposition controls much of eastern Libya, but Misrata is the only city in the west rebels have managed to hold.
“Our fighters weren’t fighting from experience,” said the local military spokesman, Ibrahim Beatelmal, noting that most had never touched a gun before joining the fight. “They had to make it all up as they went along.”
In this April 23, 2011 file photo, bullet casings litter a street in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya.
The city remains surrounded, accessible only through its port and subjected to daily bombardments. After two months of siege, cemeteries accommodate rows of new graves and hospitals have transformed into battlefield clinics; doctors estimate that the siege’s death toll has passed 1,000.
Yet amid the carnage, residents have organized to stave off hunger, allocate fuel and protect the city. They’ve erected sand berms along streets to absorb blasts, hacked down palm trees to delineate ambulance fast lanes, formed an array of administrative committees — all with a community spirit that revealed itself in many ways during an Associated Press reporter’s weeklong stay.
Misrata is a merchant city, with a large professional class whose expertise has paid off in distinctive ways. Dermatologists treat blast victims. University students master street-fighting tactics.
“All of a sudden I became responsible for macaroni and onions,” said Majdi Shibani, a telecommunications professor put in charge of food distribution — a daunting task in a sprawling city where all phone lines have been cut. His team oversees distribution of 400 tons of food per week from a room in the back of a hookah lounge, where customers smoke water pipes.
Donations of food have streamed in on boats from the Libyan diaspora, foreign countries and international organizations. There’s little coordination, resulting in huge surpluses of, say, canned corn — which Shibani said Libyans hate.
The stalemate in Misrata mirrors the situation nationwide. Soon after the uprising against Gadhafi broke out on Feb. 15, the opposition took over Benghazi and other eastern towns, but its patchwork forces proved unable to make further gains even after U.S. and NATO airstrikes on Gadhafi’s troops began in late March.
Meanwhile, government forces surrounded Misrata, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of the capital Tripoli, cutting it off and attacking from three sides. Unlike fighters in eastern Libya, who retreat across stretches of desert when attacked, Misrata’s rebels can’t run; their backs are to the Mediterranean Sea.
After several failed attacks on Misrata, government commanders sent a column of tanks blasting its way down Tripoli Street on March 16. Residents fled, and regime sniper teams moved in, building nests on a dozen of the city’s tallest buildings, notably a nine-story insurance building. Gunfire from the rooftops killed and wounded scores of civilians.
The city’s youth organized resistance. Led by a handful of retired army officers, they formed brigades of dozens of fighters, each assigned to a side street, said Samir al-Hadi, a grocer who led a group at Tripoli Street’s southern end.
Local youths used their intimate knowledge of the area to dodge sniper fire, serving as scouts, gunmen, messengers and supply runners. Over walkie-talkies, group leaders let others know when tanks or supply trucks arrived so they could attack them with Molotov cocktails or rocket-propelled grenades.
They first fought with only light arms. With each ambush, they captured more — mostly anti-aircraft and heavy artillery guns — which they welded to the backs of pickup trucks.
The Gadhafi regime imported the pickups — cheap Chinese imitations of name-brand trucks — in 2007, but they sat unwanted in a lot until the war. Now, the rebels have registered about 2,000, even issuing photo IDs to their drivers to prevent theft.
The fleet is essential to the rebel cause, ferrying fighters to battle, aid to families, and casualties to hospitals. Although the trucks often break down, the rebels call them a blessing.
“The bad cars Gadhafi brought us we now use to fight him,” said Hisham Bansasi, who helps coordinate the fleet. “You can call it a joke of destiny.”
Bigger trucks were used when the rebels — unable to blast the snipers from their positions — decided instead to cut their supply lines. While rooftop gunmen provided cover, rebels drove trucks full of sand onto Tripoli Street, dumped their trailers and shot out their tires, forming heavy roadblocks.
“When we blocked the road, there was no way to get supplies to the snipers,” al-Hadi said.
The rebels then circled in, closing off back routes with destroyed cars and concrete sewage pipes.
Street battles raged while they besieged the snipers. Government forces peppered the area with mortars, killing many rebels. Al-Hadi guesses that about 400 died in the fighting on Tripoli Street alone, although no one has exact figures.
Among the victims were two Western photojournalists who had accompanied rebels to the street — Chris Hondros, a New York-based photographer for Getty Images, and British-born Tim Hetherington, co-director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Restrepo” about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
As the snipers gradually weakened, rebel fighters went building by building, clearing them any way they could.
Near the battle’s end, a team of snipers held out in a multistory furniture store called “Make Yourself at Home,” al-Hadi said. Rebels fired on the building with anti-aircraft guns, forcing the snipers into the basement.
Gunmen then stormed the building and rolled burning tires down the stairs. Days later, its stairwell was charred black, and the smell of burnt rubber and dead bodies fouled the air.
The battle turned in late April, al-Hadi said, as government troops ran low on supplies and fled from the high-rises to nearby homes. The rebels raised their flag on the insurance building on April 21.
In this April 22, 2011 file photo, a Libyan rebel fighter uses a scope to peek through a hole in a wall during a battle with pro-Gadhafi troops in the besieged city of Misrata, the main rebel holdout in Gadhafi’s territory.
Rebel fighter Mustafa Zredi, 18, said he watched one of the last sniper groups seize a house on April 26 and punch holes for their rifles in the stairway walls.
“We knew we could easily put gas in a bottle and throw it over the wall to burn them out,” Zredi said.
Before doing so, the fighters asked permission from the owner, 66-year-old Mohammed Labbiz. With regret, he said OK.
“That was the only way to get those dogs out,” Labbiz recalled, standing in the charred shell of his home of 30 years. “I hope that God will reimburse me.”
Two days later, curious families walked down Tripoli Street, snapping photos of their children next to burned-out tanks.
The fighting has caused massive displacement throughout Misrata. Thousands of residents now squat in schools or crowd in with family members.
The Refayda family, from a semi-rural area to the east, evacuated into the city in mid-April after a surge of sniper fire and bombardments.
Some 70 clan members now stay in an unfinished, four-room house near the ocean. They’ve divided the rooms by age and gender — women in the bedrooms, girls in the living room, boys in the garage. The oldest is 77, the youngest 4 months. About 30 of the clan’s grown men are on the battlefield but visit regularly.
Demand is high for the home’s three bathrooms; three children shower at a time.
Ali Hameida built the house in 2003 for his wife and five children, never imagining so many guests.
“If I had known, I’d have dug a basement,” he said.
Libyans carry coffins during a funeral of four Libyan rebel fighters in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya
It’s been impossible to keep a precise count of Misrata’s death toll; doctors’ estimates range between 1,000 and 2,000. The central hospital, Hikma, has registered more than 550 dead since mid-February, but others were brought to outlying clinics or buried straightaway.
The Libyan government has provided no information on how many soldiers it has lost, further blurring the picture.
Hikma, originally a private clinic, has been transformed by the war. A tent in the parking lot houses the triage unit. Another serves as a mosque. Wards are crowded around the clock, and doctors bed down in alcoves hidden behind sheets. Outside, families cluster to await news, erupting in tears and chants when a new death is confirmed.
Dr. Ali Mustafa Ali, like many of his colleagues, often sleeps at Hikma but returns home to his wife and children during lulls, snipping a few roses from his garden to bring back to work.
“The severity of the situation has made everyone pull together in a way I’ve never seen before,” Ali said.
A group of men emerged from the hospital carrying a wooden coffin covered in a blanket — the first of 11 “martyrs” who would reach the hospital before nightfall.
“God is great,” Ali said as the men passed. Then he entered the hospital to put the flowers on his desk.
“They’re for the people inside,” he said, “to keep their spirits up.”
In her first interview with international or internal media, the wife of Muammer Gaddafi, Safia, accused NATO of war crimes against her country and denied rumors that her son Saif Al Arab is still alive.
Free Libya gets its own satellite channel, hosted by — you guessed it — Qatar.
For the first time in its history, Libya is getting its own independent satellite channel.
A group of Libyans from abroad and inside the country is setting up the new station to broadcast news and commentary about Libya for a Libyan audience, with the aim of countering Libyan state propaganda and promoting dialogue about the country’s future after Muammar al-Gaddafi, the brutal leader whose four-plus decades in power appear to be drawing to a rapid close.
The channel, to be called simply Libya TV, launches this week in Doha after less than two weeks of hurried preparation. Its founder is the avuncular Mahmud Shammam, a well-known Libyan expatriate journalist who edits Foreign Policy‘s Arabic edition.
Libya TV’s initial team of 19 young staffers was assembled partly over Facebook, Shammam says. In mid-March, he put out a call for volunteers on his page and immediately got more than 200 requests to join. “One woman even said her life would mean nothing if she did not participate,” Shammam told me. Another new staffer left Ajdabiya, an eastern city that until the last few days was occupied by Gaddafi’s fighters, to join the network in Doha. The channel had to buy him a new set of clothes when he arrived.
Shammam, a staunch secularist, has long been an outspoken critic of Gaddafi’s regime, dating back to his days as a student activist at Michigan State University, where he squared off against Gaddafi supporters led by Musa Kusa, now the regime’s foreign minister and a key member of its inner circle. (“He’s not stupid,” Shammam says of Kusa. “He knows the regime is collapsing.”)
Returning home to Libya after college, Shammam got into trouble after participating in the January 1976 student demonstrations in Benghazi, and left the country in March of that year, never to return. He has spent the years since as a journalist and activist, with stints at a number of different outlets, including nearly 10 years at the helm of Newsweek‘s Arabic edition. He’s a frequent guest on Al Jazeera, where he was a board member for four years, and is close to Libyan opposition leaders both in and outside the country.
For the first month, Shammam hopes to broadcast four hours of original programming each day, including a 20-minute news bulletin and a half-hour talk show, and then extend it thereafter. He is keen to give Libya’s young people, who have been at the forefront of the uprising, a prominent voice at the station. “The youth who liberate Libya can run it,” he says. “If we don’t let them take responsibility now, we’re going to be in trouble.”
According to Mohamed al-Akari, the new station’s Tripoli-born manager, Libya TV has set up a studio in Benghazi and another in London, in addition to its headquarters in Doha, and has correspondents throughout Libya.
While editorially independent, the channel could prove an important outlet for the revolutionaries, especially if the drama of the uprising fades and the conversation shifts to less visually gripping topics like constitutional reform, political development, and education. International coverage of Tunisia and Egypt has dropped precipitously in the wake of the respective departures of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.
In the early days of the uprising, Libyans set up the National Transitional Council (NTC), a body describing itself as “the political face of the revolution.” The purpose of the council, a senior NTC representative told me, was to combat the regime’s message that a post-Gaddafi Libya would mean chaos, tribalism, and civil war, as well as to “liberate our country, to speak to the world in one voice, and to mobilize support for the resistance.”
One of the key challenges of a post-Gaddafi Libya will be combating the years of “indoctrination” Libyan children faced, he told me, noting the wide gulf between a highly educated, worldly diaspora that is eager to help rebuild the country and a bruised, battered population inside Libya that has known only Gaddafi for 42 years.
“We need a heavy dosage of dialogue,” says Shammam, speaking for the new satellite channel. “We want Libyans to think about the future: the rule of law, civil society, a new constitution. We want to promote a culture of forgiving.”
Libya TV is being funded primarily by donations from Libyan businessmen abroad, including one $250,000 contribution from a wealthy Libyan donor in Britain. The state of Qatar, in addition to agreeing to host the network on its soil, has turned over the facilities and technical staff of Al-Rayyan, a local channel focused on cultural programming.
The Associated Press has news from Zawiya, Misrata and Tripoli.
• Zawiya – as we reported earlier army units and militiamen loyal to Muammar Gaddafi attacked a mosque where protesters were holding an anti-government sit-in. Ten people were killed and around 150 wounded, according to a doctor there. Rebels had been camped at Souq mosque for days. Soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons and hit the minaret with an anti-aircraft gun, a witness said. Zawiya, which is around 40 miles west of Tripoli, is a key city near an oil port and refineries. After the attack, thousands of people rallied in Martyrs’ Square by the mosque shouting “leave, leave” in reference to Gaddafi, according to the news agency.
• Misrata – Gaddafi loyalists battled with demonstrators who had seized control of the airport in Libya’s third largest city, which is 125 miles east of Tripoli along the coast. Rebels claimed control of the city yesterday and today militiamen with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars fired at a line of them guarding the airport. During the fighting, the airport’s defenders seized an anti-aircraft gun used by the militias and turned it against them, according to AP. A medical official said two people were killed, one from each side, and five wounded. He added: “Now Misrata is totally under control of the people, but we are worried because we squeezed between Sirte and Tripoli, which are strongholds of Gaddafi.”
• Tripoli – Pro-Gaddafi militiamen – a mix of Libyans and foreign mercenaries – have clamped down on the city since the Libyan leader went on state TV on Tuesday night and called on his supporters to take back the streets. Residents say militiamen roam Tripoli’s main avenues, firing the air, while neighbourhood watch groups have barricaded side streets trying to keep the fighters out and protesters lay low.
• Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, a cousin and close aide to the Libyan leader, announced he had defected to Egypt in protest against Gaddafi’s crackdown against protesters. Gaddafi’s son Saif claimed today that the reported death tolls have been exaggerated, although he didn’t provide his own figure. In a press conference aired on state TV, he said the number killed by police and the army had been limited and “talking about hundreds and thousands [killed] is a joke”.
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
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.
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)
6:05AM: The Youth Coalition of the February 17th Revolution in Tripoli have released to us a declaration in support of the National Transitional Council and called out to all the sons of Tripoli, the scholars, dignitaries and national guards to be ready to fill up the ranks for the start of Libya’s new beginning. Read it here.
4:38AM: Amnesty International says Gaddafi’s government is sweeping up bloggers, journalists and even teenage protesters as it tries to crush the rebellion in Libya. The human rights group says it knows of 30 people who have disappeared. It fears Gaddafi’s forces have taken them to his strongholds in Western Libya. Many of the detainees are well-known dissidents. But four teenage boys were seized as they and other protesters swarmed into a military compound on Feb. 20 in Benghazi.
4:05AM: Reports coming in that Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa is currently in Tunisia on a private visit:
4:02AM: Maher’s Zain new music video, inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and across the Arab world:
3:24AM: Libyan television broadcast on Tuesday what it said was live footage of leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son Khamis greeting supporters at his father’s compound in Tripoli, according to Reuters. A TV anchor said the images, which showed a man with a striking resemblance to Khamis Gaddafi, refuted reports in the Arab media and on the Internet that he was killed by a disaffected air force pilot who flew his plane into Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound. Read more here.
Libyan officials say such reports are part of a
“There will be times when our safety is not directly threatened but our interests and values are”. In case you missed the Presidential Address:
Libya Live Latest
12:41pm: A BBC contact in Misrata says there has been “strong bombing” in the direction of the port. He believes Libyan warships may be shelling the port “because this is the only remaining portal for international aid”. There is no way of verifying the information.
12:25pm: A presenter on Libya’s state-run Al-Libiyah TV channel is insisting that “nothing is happening”, that “our state is functioning” and “one day Libyans will laugh at these events”, BBC Monitoring reports.
12:20pm:The Guardian’s Chris McGrealtweets: “watched as #Libya rebels beat hurried retreat after strong govt resistance near Sirte. still relying on air strikes.”
Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught on the latests from Libya
12:05pm: Libya will soon be “liberated” from Gaddafi, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said, adding that the strongman could give up power under an African Union proposal. Frattini said on La7 television:
“I think that Libya will be liberated quickly and that the situation will be resolved in short notice.”
12:03pm: Tunisia’s official news agency says Libya’s Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa has arrived in Tunisia for a “private visit.” TAP news agency says Koussa crossed into the country on Monday through Ras Jedir border crossing. It quotes Tunisia’s foreign ministry as saying the Libyan foreign minister was on a “private visit” but did not elaborate.
11:57pm: Libyan state TV says “colonial and crusader aggressors” hit civilian and military targets including a leather factory. There is no independent confirmation of the strike.
11:49pm: Libyan rebel radio is meanwhile appealing to people in the western regions to join the revolution, BBC Monitoring reports. “Do not wait for the fall of Gaddafi… do it now,” a presenter says. It is also calling on religious scholars to encourage the young to join. The station referred to Gaddafi as “the tyrant, Draculibya” – a play on the word Dracula.
11:46pm: Libyan state TV is now quoting a military official as saying that coalition forces have bombed the town of Surman, 70km (43 miles) west of Tripoli.
11:44pm: Mr Kaim called on the West to instead work for peace in Libya. “The solution is rather for all the parties to be involved in peacemaking and to become peacemakers,” he told reporters in Tripoli. “I would like especially to call upon on the American President, Barack Obama, and all the other Western leaders within the EU and outside the EU to be peacemakers not warmongers, and not to push Libyans towards a civil war and to more death and destruction in Libya.”
11:43pm: Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim has issued the following message to Western leaders meeting in London on Tuesday: “Libya is an independent country with full sovereignty and the Libyan people are the only ones who have the right to decide the future of the country. Planning the division of Libya or imposing a foreign political system on Libya designed by foreign governments is not acceptable.”
11:39pm: Libya’s two state television channels are showing video of what they call “civilian victims” of the “Crusader colonialist aggression”. BBC Monitoring reports that the tone of coverage on both channels is a mixture of scaremongering and sheer defiance, with a presenter on al-Libiya insisting that “nothing is happening”, that Libya is “fine” and “our state is functioning”, and that “one day Libyans will laugh at these events”. He repeatedly states: “Things are going well”.
11:33pm:Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweets: “Day of preparations for London Libya conference tomorrow. Military steps good. Key also a political and humanitarian offensive.”
11:18pm: Forces loyal to Gaddafi have carried out a campaign of forced disappearances to try to crush opposition to his rule, Amnesty International has said. The human rights group said it had details of more than 30 cases of individuals who had disappeared since before the uprising began in mid-February. Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director Malcolm Smart said: “It appears that there is a systematic policy to detain anyone suspected of opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule, hold them incommunicado, and transfer them to his strongholds in western Libya. Given the circumstances of their enforced disappearance, there is every reason to believe that these individuals are at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment. Col Gaddafi must halt this outrageous campaign and order his forces to abide by international law.”
11:03pm: The Libyan government has said comments made by Gaddafi on 17 March about the people of Benghazi were “mistranslated”. In the radio address, which was used by Western powers to justify their military intervention, he was reported to have told residents of the rebel-held city: “Prepare yourselves from tonight. We will find you in your closets… We will show no mercy and no pity to them.” But officials told a news conference in Tripoli that the Brother Leader was addressing only “terrorists and al-Qaeda affiliates, and not the citizens and the people of the city of Benghazi”. He described them as “the dear and the beloved”, the officials added.
10:53pm: More on the comments made by the head of the Libyan rebel council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, on France 2 TV: “After the victory, we shall try Gaddafi in Libya for all the crimes he has committed,” he said. “The Libyan people have chosen this path, a difficult choice – that of confronting a tyrant. We shall try to build a free and democratic country, which respects human rights and changes in government.” Mr Abdul Jalil, who is expected to attend the conference on Libya in London on Tuesday, thanked the international community for its decisive assistance, while adding that more needed to be done. “We have an urgent need for light arms because fighting is being forced upon us.”
10:45pm: There have been nine large explosions in Tajoura, 30km east of Tripoli, a witness tells the AFP news agency.
Citizens of Benghazi look at photos of dead or missing persons in Liberation square in Benghazi
10:36pm: Vice-Adm Gortney says the Libyan rebel forces are not robust and the gains they have made on the battlefield in recent days are tenuous. The US is not directly supporting the rebels, but they have clearly achieved a military benefit from the coalition’s air strikes, he adds.
10:33pm: Vice-Adm Gortney adds: “We are paying particular attention to the lines of communication, the command and control, the ability to resupply those forces that are most actively attacking civilians. What’s the difference between this and another conflict? The target types are not different, it’s where we are trying to go after them that is different. We are not leaving significant firepower. Anywhere that we can see ammunition storage facilities, things of that nature, we are going after those as well. The targeting objectives from the very first strikes remain the same.”
10:28pm: Asked about the hasty retreat of Gaddafi’s forces, Vice-Adm Gortney says: “[We do not know] whether it is confusion, whether their supply lines have been over-extended, but we saw a pretty significant shift.”
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid making a hasty escape in Nawfaliya amid fear of approaching pro-Gaddafi forces.
10:16pm: In the last 24 hours, coalition strike aircraft have continued to go after “targets of opportunity” on the ground in Libya, such as regime forces hit near Misrata, Sirte and Ras Lanuf, Vice-Admiral Gortney says. Six TLAM cruise missiles were launched from the sea against the headquarters of the 32nd brigade, one of Col Gaddafi’s most loyal units and one that has actively attacked civilians, he adds. Ammunition stores and bunkers were struck around Tripoli and Sabha. The coalition has flown 178 sorties, the majority of which were strike-related.
10:14pm: A UN sanctions committee will add new names of individuals and companies to a list of Gaddafi’s Libyan regime facing an assets freeze and travel ban, diplomats said. Gaddafi and his immediate family already top a list of 18 individuals banned from leaving the country and 13 people and five entities whose international assets have been frozen by two UN Security Council resolutions.
Sanctions committee chairman Jose Filipe Cabral, Portugal’s UN envoy, said more names are almost certain to be added. Members of the committee have already said they will be proposing new names, Cabral told the 15-nation Security Council.
10:08pm: Vice-Adm Gortney adds: “”We still have not received a single confirmed of civilian casualties caused by the coalition. We will continue to be just as precise as we can in keeping up the pressure on regime forces, while protecting innocent civilians. I am quite confident that in and around Misrata… We have been and we will be effective at hitting exactly what we are aiming at.”
10:06pm: Vice-Adm William Gortney, director of the US Joint Staff, tells a news conference at the Pentagon: “We now assess that rebel forces are in control of Ajdabiya and have pushed west to within 80 miles of Sirte. We believe the regime is preparing to dig in at Sirte, setting up a number of checkpoints and placing tanks throughout the city. Likewise for Zintan, where we assess the regime is preparing to reinforce existing positions.”
9:55pm: On the eve of a 35-nation conference in London to discuss the situation in Libya, US President Barack Obama is to attempt to explain the US role in the Western air campaign Col Gaddafi in a televised address at 0030 BST (2330 GMT/1930 EST). Mr Obama is expected to hail Nato’s decision to take over responsibility for the operation in Libya as proof that he is making good on his pledge that the US would play only a limited role.
“Leaving #Mistra to sound of heavy machine gunfire, govt minders anxious to turn us around back to #Tripoli…
Couldnt get into centre of #Misrata so impossible to make any informed judgment of who controls what. Army apprears dominant on outskirts…
#Misrata: tanks hidden under trees, artillery stood in open fields, soldiers in vehcles cud b seen hiding in storefrnts, soldiers on rooftps…
#Misrata: streets deserted except for 100 or so Gadhafi supporters driven in to put on display for our benefit…”
9:24pm: Gaddafi will go on trial in Libya “after victory” by rebel forces, the head of the rebels’ national council said in an interview broadcast by French television. Mustafa Abdel Jalil told France 2 journalists in Benghazi:
“After the victory we will try Gaddafi in Libya for all the crimes he has committed.”
A rebel fighter carries ammunition as rebels advance west towards Sirte
9:17pm: Mr Levy also denies there are divisions in Libya that will result in a stalemate. “I believe that the risk of division is overestimated by most of the commentators. I believe that the so-called rebels have strong friends and strong roots in Tripoli and Sirte. Last night, I spoke to someone from Sirte on the telephone who told me that the city was much more than we had believed already on the side of the rebels. All of them are wishing and dreaming to get rid of this dictatorship.” He says it will be a matter of days, not weeks. “Don’t forget it is an army mainly composed of mercenaries paid to kill, but not born to kill. If they have a chance to get out of the way, they will.”
9:13pm: Bernard-Henri Levy avoids saying whether or not he told French President Nicolas Sarkozy to recognise the rebel Transitional National Council as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people: “I don’t know if I told him. But it was my opinion. When I came back from Benghazi, it was crystal clear for me that the only legitimate representatives of Libya today, and of the whole of Libya, was these guys. They are westerners with Libyan roots and western roots, and are bridges between England, France, America and Libya. They are democrats and secular, and opposed to any sort of terrorism.”
9:07pm: The French philosopher, Bernard Henri-Levy, tells the BBC about the Libyan rebels: “I met the rebels in Benghazi, I met them Brega, I met them in Bayda. I spoke at length with the main figures with the Transitional National Council. Firstly, they stand for secular Islam, and not fundamental Islam. Among the 11 whom I know, and are known, no-one belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood or anything like that. Secondly, they are favourable to a sort of democracy. It will not be a Churchillian democracy overnight, of course, but it will be a step forward. This step forward, this move to democracy, in a country that has been broken by 42 years of dictatorship, will be a blessing. Thirdly, I think they represent all of Libya. Inside the council, you have members who come from tribes faithful to Gaddafi, and even the tribe of Gaddafi himself.”
9:05pm Spencer Ackerman from Wired.com wrote that NATO is taking command of the Libya war. But the real strategy for victory over Moammar Gadhafi is found on the airwaves above Libya: communications frequencies telling his commanders to simply give up fighting. If that sounds like hope masquerading as a plan, then you’re receiving the message loud and clear.
Flying over Libya is the Commando Solo, the Air Force’s special operations aircraft. It’s capable of hijacking radio and TV frequencies to disrupt enemy communications and broadcast the messaging that the U.S. wants. Last week, it informed Libyan naval officers that if they left port to challenge the American, French and Italian ships floating nearby, they’d be destroyed.
9:01pm: US vessels are preparing to pull out of the Mediterranean as Nato takes over the Libya operation, US military officials have told Reuters. ”There is planning out there to do that,” the official said. “It will be more gradual than sudden.”
8:57pm:Andini Effendi tweets: “#Sirte in the evening was much more tense than [Tripoli]. Countless explosions&aircraft circling around the city.Locals were shouting ‘Sarkozy!”
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 21, 2011. — stay tuned on the homepage for Live Updates on March 22.
Continue reading below to follow the minute-by-minute updates that occurred throughout the day
China’s first naval ship entered into the Mediterranean to Libya today. It is said to be evacuating China natives working in Libya, but will be definitely “testing the waters.”
12:58AM: Al-Jazeera reports that Coalition forces hit radar installations at two air defence bases east of Benghazi, Libya
12:37AM: UK MPs vote 557-13 in support of United Nations Security Council resolution on Libya.
12:23AM: The UN Security Council has rejected a Libyan request for an emergency meeting to halt what Muammar Gaddafi’s regime called “military aggression”, saying it would wait for a briefing Thursday from the secretary-general.
12:01AM: Witnesses have told Reuters that the western Libyan town of Zintan faced heavy shelling earlier today from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, forcing residents to flee, including to caves in the mountainous region.
“Several houses have been destroyed and a mosque minaret was also brought down,” Abdulrahmane Daw told the news agency by phone from the town.
“New forces were sent today to besiege the city. There are now at least 40 tanks at the foothills of the mountains near Zintan.”
Swiss journalist Gaetan Vannay, also reached by telephone, said the shelling was the heaviest in three days. “Today this very strong battle started on the eastern front. Women and children hid in the caves in the forests.”
11:53PM: Mr Hague dismissed critics who said this was not the UK’s fight to be involved in. “If we had not got involved in this resolution and this action, then such a resolution and such action would probably not have happened at all.
11:51PM: In response to criticisms from some MPs that the House was not given the option voting before the UK joined the conflict, Mr Hague said that had the UN resolution been passed any later, “it would have been too late, and once that resolution was passed, we had to move with all possible speed”. He promised the House would be consulted on any future “fundamental change in the nature of the mission”.
11:48PM: Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander has already said the opposition Labour party will back the military action.
11:46PM: Mr Hague said there had been “nothing gleeful or gung-ho” about the the debate in the Commons or the decision of the government to enter the conflict.
11:44PM: British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said Europe must be a “magnet” for positive change in the Middle East and North Africa. If such revolutions as in Libya succeed, he said, the gains for British security and prosperity will be enormous. “If they do not, the potential for breeding grounds of terrorism and extremism will prosper, and that is why it is so much in our national interest to address these issues”.
11:41PM: British politicians are holding a late night debate on the country’s military involvement in Libya, with the government keen to convince the public the conflict will not drag on.
11:35PM: BBC news reports that a a spokesman for rebels in Misrata has described the situation as “a catastrophe”.
“We’ve had more than 40 dead, more than 200 injured here today because when Gaddafi stopped the military actions, the people went out on to the street to demonstrate and the military started shooting at them with heavy weapons,” he said.
“They even shot three ambulances – two of the drivers were killed.”
11:21PM: As allied missiles rain down on Libyan targets for a third successive night, the Guardian has put together an interactive map looking at the military assets in the area, and the first targets hit on the ground over the weekend.
10:47pm: More on that naval base strike (10:40). The base is some 10 kilometres (six miles) east of the capital, according to AFP.
10:40pm: Eyewitnesses quoted by Agence France Presse say that a naval base near Tripoli has been hit by coalition forces.
10:34pm : British members of parliament are expected to vote in a little over an hour’s time on whether to support the government’s decision to deploy British forces in Libya.
10:33pm: Here is President Obama’s statement from earlier regarding the plan in Libya
10:29pm : A Libyan rebel radio station saying it broadcasts from Misratah, in western Libya, says the “moment of victory is near,” according to the BBC’s media monitoring service. The radio station warned pro-Gaddafi forces who had lost contact with the commanders not to disguise themselves in civilian clothes. “Withdraw and hand yourselves over, because you are now isolated pockets,” the broadcast said.
10:04pm: The BBC’s Ian Pannell, near the eastern city and rebel stronghold of Benghazi, says that he came under attack from tanks belonging to Gaddafi’s troops just outside the town. “The ceasefire is not being honoured and there is still a battle under way. The rebels are a pretty rag-tag bunch. There’s no command and control. A lot of shouting and heat, and not a lot of light in their campaign.”
10:00pm: Mussa Ibrahim, a Libyan government spokesman, has said foreign attacks had killed many people by bombing ports and Sirte airport. Ibrahim told a news conference:” You saw that place (Sirte airport). It’s a civilian airport. It was bombarded and many people were killed. Harbours were also bombarded.”
9:59pm: More from the Libyan government spokesman who is giving a press briefing to journalists in the capital, Tripoli. He says that coalition forces have also bombarded Sebha, a southern town with close ties to Gaddafi.
9:55pm: The New York Times has just published more details about its four journalists, released after being held in Libya for six days.
9:47pm: A Libyan government spokesman says that many are killed after several ports and the airport at Sirte are targeted, Reuters report.
9:43pm: Libyan state TV is reporting that several sites in the capital have been attacked by what it calls the “crusader enemy”, Reuters reports. It says the broadcast adds that: “These attacks are not going to scare the Libyan people”.
9:38pm: Loud explosions and barrages of anti-aircraft fire were heard near the Tripoli compound of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Monday night, an AFP correspondent said. The volleys erupted at around 1900GMT near the Bab el-Aziziya barracks in the south of Tripoli, the correspondent said.
9:30pm: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, speaking in Turin, says he’d like Nato to take control of the international operation in Libya, according to Agence France Presse.
9:15pm: Libya’s state TV is reporting that the capital has come under attack from the international coalition, says AP
9:09pm: Anti-aircraft gunfire is lighting up the sky over Tripoli
9:06pm: CNN correspondent Nic Robertson in Tripoli says sirens can be heard coming from the area of the city where the compound is located. Loud anti-aircraft can be heard, indicating a no-fly zone has “not yet been achieved militarily”, he says.
9:02pm: There are reports of explosions in Tripoli and anti-aircraft tracer fire apparently coming from Col Gaddafi’s compound.
8:59pm: As the coalition strikes target Gaddafi areas, rebel fighters rest in the shade of a vehicle outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah on March 21, 2011.[Photo by Reuters]
8:50pm: Mr Obama said the US would soon step back from the operation. “After the initial thrust that has disabled Gaddafi’s air defences, limiting his ability to threaten the populations, there will be a transition in which we have a range of coalition partners, who will then be participating in establishing a no-fly zone.
The Libyan rebellion flag is painted on a shrapnel-riddled wall in Benghazi on Sunday
8:29pm: An anonymous caller in Tripoli tells World Have Your Say that anti-aircraft fire can be heard in the background as she talks on the phone. “I am scared,” she says.
8:18pm: Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay has confirmed that Canadian military jets flew their first mission over Libya today, Reuters reports. Four CF-18 fighter jets and two refueling tanker were involved, he said, but they did not open fire.
8:07pm: Rebels in Misrata say that in addition to the 40 killed, 300 people were wounded today by regime gunfire, AFP reports
7:39pm: BBC correspondent reports there is considerable anger towards Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who criticised the coalition air strikes; one Libyan told him: “I want to thank the international coalition for these strikes; if it hadn’t been for these strikes, Benghazi at this minute wouldn’t be on the map. Also I want to talk to Mr Amr Moussa: Talk out of knowledge or be quiet, and probably it is better if you be quiet… The strikes were not killing civilians, there were aimed at military forces only.”
7:25pm:Iman Bugaighis of the Opposition National Council told AlJazeera English that opposition forces have captured Ajdabiya and pushed Gaddafi forces to the eastern gate of the city. Dead line the street and the causalities fill the hospitals. Carnage called ”devastating” Ms. Bugaighis claims there is coordination between opposition forces and Coalition forces adding that without them ”we could have only kept it[Benghazi] for 1 or 2 days maximum.”
7:22pm: Forces loyal to Gaddafi surrounded Misrata, killing at least nine people, cutting off its water and bringing in human shield
7:16pm:French military aircraft have carried out 55 sorties over Libya in the past three days since the launch of the international coalition’s operation to enforce a UN resolution, France’s armed forces chief has said, according to AFP.
7:13pm: The UK prime minister’s official spokesman has said UK military targets will be chosen to achieve the two objectives stated in the UN resolution, ie the setting up of a no-Fly zone and the protection of civilians. He said: “I don’t want to get into a debate about specific targets, but targets will be chosen in order to meet the objectives of the resolution. But there is no stated objective within the resolution which calls for the removal of Col Gaddafi. All our targets will be legitimate and legal under the resolution.”
A Libyan rebel holds the rebellion flag as he stands over wrecked military vehicles belonging to Gadhafi’s forces Sunday
6:58pm: Norway’s defence minister has said the country’s six fighter jets sent to the international air campaign in Libya would not take action as long as it was unclear which country was commanding the multinational force, AFP reports.
6:55pm: The BBC’s Jon Sopel in Italy reports: “The first of the three Typhoons used by the RAF today [Monday] for missions over Libya has returned to base in Gioia del Colle. Two C130s have also arrived – presumably carrying weaponry and logistics support for the Tornadoes that are due here.”
6:50pm: France has not carried out any air strikes on Libya so far on Monday, according to the defence ministry, Reuters reports.
6:48pm: Pro-Gaddafi forces have been bombarding the town of Zintan in western Libya for several hours, al-Jazeera reports.
6:47pm: A French aircraft carrier will be in place to participate in the Libya operation from Tuesday, the spokesman has added.
6:44pm:France has deployed around 20 planes over Libya on Monday, an army spokesman has said, Reuters reports.
6:40pm:The United Arab Emirates said on Monday that its involvement in Libya is limited to humanitarian assistance, after reports that it would send warplanes to patrol a UN-backed no-fly zone
6:38pm:Libyan rebel envoy has told Associated Press news agency they do not want Muammar Gaddafi killed. After his ouster they would like him to stand trial.
6:30pm: Gen Ham says the US and coalition forces enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya are there to protect civilians and not to provide close-air support for opposition forces fighting Col Gaddafi. The general added he had no orders to directly attack the Libyan leader
6:25pm: US commander on coalition operations in Libya says the coalition has flown 70-80 sorties on Monday, which is well over half of those non-US
6:10pm: The Pentagon in the US has said 12 more cruise missiles have been fired at a Libyan missile, command and air defence sites, AP reports.
6:07pm: South African President Jacob Zuma tells BBC Africa on the crisis in Libya: “As South Africa, we say no to killing civilians. No to the regime change doctrine and no to the foreign occupation of Libya or any other sovereign state.”
5:55pm:After earlier suggestions that the United Arab Emirates would send warplanes to patrol the Libyan no-fly zone, it has now said its involvement in Libya is limited to humanitarian assistance, AFP reports from Abu Dhabi
5:50pm: “I can announce to the House [of Commons] today that coalition forces have largely neutralised Libyan air defences and that as a result a no-fly zone has effectively been put in place over Libya,” British Prime Minister David Cameron has just told the UK’s parliament. “It is also clear that coalition forces have helped to avert what could have been a bloody massacre in Benghazi. In my view they did so just in the nick of time.”
5:47pm: A senior official in the Libyan National Council said it would not negotiate with Gaddafi to end the war, Reuters says. “We are in a war of attrition this dictator has forced upon us,” Abed al-Hafeez Ghoga told a news conference in Benghazi. “Because of this we refuse to negotiate with him. We will see the end of him rather than negotiate. He is wanted internationally as a war criminal. He will be judged for his genocidal actions.”
5:45pm: AFP is now quoting a rebel spokesman in Misrata corroborating resident quoted by Reuters that pro-Gaddafi troops had fired on people in Misrata. At least 11 people were killed, the spokesman told AFP.
5:34pm:The coalition fired 10 to 12 missiles at targets in Libya last night – a dramatic drop on the previous night when 110 missiles were fired, a spokesman for the US Africa Command Vince Crawley said according to Reuters. “We spent the first 24 hours establishing conditions for a no-fly zone and are now transitioning over to a patrol posture,” he said.
5:30pm: Allied military action in Libya is aimed at protecting civilians, not targeting Col Gaddafi, a senior White House official said according to Reuters. “It’s not about regime change,” the official, Ben Rhodes, told reporters on an Air Force One flight from Brazil to Chile.
5:15pm: Adel Abdelhafidh Ghoga, the Libyan National Council official, held a press briefing. He says the situation in Misurata is critical as there is no water, fuel or electricity. Ghoka said sleeping cells in Benghazi have been given till tomorrow afternoon to hand themselves over. They will be given amnesty, if not they will face the rebels and will be treated as enemy of the revolution. He says there is also an uprising in Tripoli but that media black out there and suppression is making things hard.
5:14pm: The Libyan armed forces have said that “the other sides are not committed to the ceasefire and the bombs and missiles are still targeting Libya”, the Libyan news agency Jana has reported, according to a translation by BBC Monitoring. Jana quoted “sources at the Temporary General Defence Committee” as saying that “the terrorists of al-Qaeda are still carrying out their armed attacks”.
5:05pm: Pro-Gaddafi forces have fired on a crowd in the rebel-held city of Misrata, and at least nine people have died, a resident tells Reuters
5:21pm: AlJazeera English reporting heavy fighting in Ajdabiya as opposition forces engage Gaddafi forces to reclaim to the city.
4:56pm: Nato is ready to support the international coalition intervening in Libya within “a few days,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has according to AFP.
4:54pm: The Arab League’s Secretary General Amr Moussa – who had criticised the coalition bombarding Libya – has made the following statement after a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron: “We are commmitted to UN Security Council Resolution 1973, we have no objection to this decision, particularly as it does not call for an invasion of Libyan territory,” reports AFP.
4:54pm: Germany on Monday defended its decision not to back Western-led air strikes against Gaddafi, but backed EU in tightening sanctions against the Libyan government, Reuters reported.
4:50pm: The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last “a while,” a top French official said on Monday, echoing Moammar Gadhafi’s warning of a long war ahead
<4:41pm: “The warlord Sarkozy [the French president] wants to ‘Arabise’ the coalition against Gaddafi,” writes journalist Arnaud Leparmentier in a blog hosted by France’s Le Monde website (in French).“This is his first war… He wants to follow in the footsteps of [former President] Jacques Chirac, the defender of the Arab peoples, not those of George W Bush… However, the Arab League seemed to be backtracking Sunday, and the Arab public are worried about bombardments carried out by what is not an international coalition, but essentially a US-Franco-British one. On Sunday evening, he called Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, emir of Abu Dhabi, to encourage him to participate in the coalition.”
4:20pm: Two Spanish F-18 fighter jets have staged their first sorties over Libya as part of the UN-mandated coalition, the defence ministry said according to AFP. Four F-18 fighter jets, a refueling aircraft, an F-100 frigate, an S-74 submarine and a CN-235 maritime surveillance plane will also be deployed by Spain – as well as about 500 troops.
4:14pm: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned the Western intervention in Libya, saying it is aimed at “getting their hands on its oil”, and that Iran supports the Libyan rebels, reports AFP.
4:13pm: More from Mohamed, a rebel in Misrata: “[Gaddafi’s] troops are on the outskirts of the city, and they are working towards the centre of the city. We hear of door-to-door searches… We don’t have water and most of the city is without electricity… The medical supplies are also running very low. The bombing campaign is a relief, we are very grateful and we are very relived by the international community’s actions. But we think regime change should be on the agenda.”
4:12pm: Libyan opposition National Council says eastern gate of Ajdabiya has been recaptured. Burnt-out vehicles line on the road between Ajdabiya and Benghazi, Al Jazeera correspondent reports.
4:02pm:Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times tweets: “While celebrating release of NYT journalists in Libya, we’re also thinking of Al Jazeera journos & others still detained.”
4:01pm:There are reports of heavy shelling by pro-Gaddafi troops in western city of Zintan.
3:46pm: The UN Security Council will probably hold a close door meeting on Libya Monday afternoon, a diplomat is quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
3:45pm: Jacob Zuma, the South African president, said on Monday that his country does not support “the regime change doctrine” in Libya, and called for restraint from foreign countries enforcing a no-fly zone. Zuma said: “As South Africa we say no to the killing of civilians, no to the regime change doctrine and no to the foreign occupation of Libya,”, one of five heads of state on a high-level African Union panel on Libya.”
3:30pm: European Union foreign minister are meeting in Brussels to discuss ongoing situation in Libya.
3:20pm: Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister, said on Monday a UN resolution authorizing military action in Libya resembled “mediaeval calls for crusades” after Western forces launched a second wave of air strikes.
3:01pm:General Sir David Richards, the chief of the defence staff, was speaking after British Foreign Secretary William Hague refused to rule out that air strikes could specifically target Gaddafi. In an interview with BBC radio earlier, Hague declined to be drawn into the details of military targets.
Gaddafi’s tanks destroyed by Coalition
3:14pm:The BBC’s Kevin Connolly reports “loud explosions” in the far distance along the coast from Tobruk.
3:10pm: More from the rebel spokesman in Misrata: “They [the government forces] have distributed more than 200 snipers along the street, and they’re shooting in the direction of the main street and in the direction of the back streets. Our forces are trying to resist and to fend them off, and to expel them from the city, but he [Gaddafi] is using overwhelming firepower.”
3:08pm: A spokesman for the rebels in Misrata tells the BBC World Service: “Gaddafi has bombarded the city – this is the fourth consecutive day. The main street and the centre of the city have been razed to the ground. He only controls the main street that leads all the way out of Misrata, so he is controlling that street from end to end, and he’s preserving his supply line.”
3:05pm: The involvement of U.S. military aircraft in strikes on Libya has “plateaued,” a spokesman for United States Africa Command says. The U.S. conducted missile strikes overnight, spokesman Vince Crowley said.
3:03pm: British government sources have said it is legal under the UN resolution to target the Libyan leader. Sources say under the UN resolution 1973, the coalition have the power to target him if he is a threat to the civilian population of Libya. The source said the chief of the defence staff, Gen Sir David Richards, was wrong to say that it was not allowed under the UN resolution.
2:57pm: The BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Tobruk reports: “Some reports from the strategic town of Ajdabiya suggest a tentative advance by opposition forces emboldened by allied air operations has been repulsed by government troops. Even with Western support, the rebels remain a lightly armed and generally disorganised force.”
2:34pm: More from Maj Gen Lorimer: “We are satisfied that our attacks and those of our partners have been highly effective in degrading the Libyan air defence and command and control capability.”
2:32pm: At a news briefing, the British military has said there was no evidence of a ceasefire from the Libyan military, and that the UK will continue with military action. Maj Gen John Lorimer added they were not aware of any civilian casualties.
2:28pm: Swiss journalist Gaetan Vannay has been in the western city of Zintan for the past nine days and says the eastern outskirts of the city are currently under fire and have been since yesterday.
2:13pm: More from the Libyan rebels: they say their aim is still to capture the Libyan capital, Tripoli, but that they want to achieve that without foreign offensive action, the rebel spokesman has told a news conference in Benghazi.
1:20pm: Namik Tan, the Turkish ambassador to the United States, has written on Twitter that the four New York Times journalists – two reporters and two photographers – “are on their way to leave Libyan border and will be delivered to US officials.” Since US diplomatic personnel have withdrawn from Libya and the embassy has been shut down, Turkey is serving as the protector of US interests in the country. Tan said they were released this morning after negotiations between Turkey and Libya.
12:41pm: The Guardian newspaper’s Chris McGreal was on the road today near Ajdabiya, around 160km south of Benghazi, where Gaddafi troops are still fighting with rebels. That appears to be the current front line. The rebels, he says, view the coalition airstrikes “as part of their campaign.” That’s not what the West wants to hear; they’re trying to keep themselves from becoming embroiled in a full-scale regime change effort.
12:30pm: UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who spoke with Amr Moussa in Cairo today, was mobbed by dozens of pro-Gaddafi demonstrators today, the AFP reports. Ban was going to walk to Tahrir Square, the heart of the Egyptian revolution, but the demonstrators forced his delegation back into the Arab League.
12:11pm: The violence continues inside Libya. Rob Crilly, a correspondent for the Telegraph newspaper, tweets that he was halted during an attempt to get into Ajdabiya – south of Benghazi – because rebels in front of him were caught in an ambush and four were killed. Rebels may still be trapped inside Ajdabiya by pro-Gaddafi troops, he says.
12:05pm: The UN-sanctioned air strikes are having an affect, or everyone who was going to flee Libya has already fled; either way, the UN Refugee Agency says it has seen a decrease in the flow of Libyans leaving for Egypt in the past 48 hours. Some Libyans in Egypt have also returned to their country, a spokeswoman for the agency said.
11:53am: Iraq’s government has expressed support for international efforts to “protect Libyan people,” a spokesman said, according to Reuters.
10:38am: Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League, appeared to backtrack on the League’s support for the coalition yesterday, saying the jet and cruise-missile strikes “differ[ed] from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone.” Moussa and his colleagues had asked the UN Security Council days before to institute a no-fly zone and left it up to the member states as to how it might be carried out, so yesterday’s remarks had some observers scratching their heads. Today, UK foreign secretary William Hague attempted a bit of damage control. Hague said he had spoken with Moussa, who still supported the coalition. “I think too much was made of Amr Moussa’s comments,” he said. “I will be talking to him again today.”
10:34am: UK defence secretary Liam Fox has told BBC Radio 5 that targeting Gaddafi himself – something the United States has thus far denied doing – could “potentially be a possibility” if civilians would not be harmed. Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, responded negatively to Fox’s comments. He said expanding the coalition’s goals could divide it and that it was “unwise” to set such specific goals that might be unachievable.
4:14am: The AFP newsagency, quoting the coalition, says Gaddafi’s military control centre was the target of strikes on Sunday and was destroyed. Libyan officals took journalists to see what they claimed was the damage from a missile attack. Officials said the missiles had struck very near to Gaddafi’s tent. Anita McNaught, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tripoli, said journalists taken to the scene asked officials why there was no smoke or fire. One official said he didn’t know because he wasn’t a military expert.
2:46am: The doctor added: “Our medical team has been working non-stop since last Tuesday. They are so exhausted. Our resources are almost finished. We ask the international community to at least secure passage for medical supplies and food. We have no water. Yesterday, there were 16 civilian deaths. Today, there were seven civilian deaths. All the injuries you could imagine – head, chest, laparotomy, crushed limbs and amputations. I haven’t got the resources to sustain them. In two or three days, I will have to leave all the injured patients dying and bleeding. I have no more resources.”
2:43am: Earlier, a doctor at a hospital in Misrata, Libya’s third city, told BBC Radio 5 live that the city was being attacked by forces loyal to Col Gaddafi. “Since early morning [on Sunday], they have been bombarding everything – all the buildings, all the homes, nobody is secure in this city,” he said. “Gaddafi’s militants and more than 25 tanks have been entering and bombarding the city. There are snipers all over. If you leave your front door, you are a target. I am not secure in the hospital and I cannot go home. I have not seen my family for a week. There is no secure way to get home.”
1:29am: British forces have taken part in “another co-ordinated strike against Libyan air defence systems,” the military has announced. For a second time, the UK has launched guided Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles from a Trafalgar Class submarine in the Mediterranean as part of a coordinated coalition plan to enforce the resolution,” Major General John Lorimer said in a statement. “We and our international partners are continuing operations in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.”
1:26am: Libyan anti-aircraft tracer fire erupted in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as international forces pounded the country’s air defences and patrolled its skies.
1:00am: Libyan TV showing pictures of what it says are thousands of people gathering in the capital for funerals of people killed in air raids. The government says 64 people died in the attacks which began on March 20.
12:30am: Ryanair, the Irish budget carrier, has diverted flights from Trapani airport in Sicily starting Monday to make way for military operations over Libya. The airport at the foot of the Italian peninsula doubles as a military base. It is about 560km from the westernmost point of Libya. The move was the first reported direct impact from the Libyan conflict on airline operations outside the country.
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.
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]
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.”
3:45am: 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.”
Upon his arrival to the EU Council, Portugal’s Foreign minister Luiz Amado proposed that the next steps for Libya be a ceasefire, followed by a national dialogue. He furthermore stated that ‘Gaddafi is no more’ however any dialogue or ceasefire will be dependant on Col.Gaddafi’s cooperation or removal
EU foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels today (10 March) ahead of a special summit on Friday dedicated to the ongoing civil war in Libya and to the wider Southern Mediterranean region. Ministers will reportedly assess the risk that the conflict could degenerate and drag on for a long time.