UN authorises no-fly zone over Libya

Security Council imposes a no-fly zone over Libya and authorises “all necessary measures” to protect civilians

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has voted on a resolution authorising a no-fly zone over Libya and “all necessary measures” – code for military action – to protect civilians.

Ten of the council’s 15 members voted in favour of the resolution, while Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil abstained.

No votes were recorded against the resolution on Thursday, which was co-sponsored by France, Britain, Lebanon and the United States.

In Benghazi, the main opposition stronghold, a large crowd watching the vote on an outdoor TV projection burst into celebration as green and red fireworks filled the air, as broadcast live on the Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel.

The resolution fulfills a long-standing demand from pro-democracy opposition forces in Libya asking for a no-fly zone to be established in order to prevent Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, from using fighter jets to bombard their positions, as they have been doing.

It comes just a few hours after Gaddafi warned residents of Benghazi that his forces would show “no mercy” in an impending assault on the city.

“The matter has been decided … we are coming,” he said in a radio address on Thursday.

The Libyan leader called pro-democracy fighters in Benghazi “armed gangsters” and urged residents to attack them, saying: “You all go out and cleanse the city of Benghazi.

“We will track them down, and search for them, alley by alley, road by road … Massive waves of people will be crawling out to rescue the people of Benghazi, who are calling out for help, asking us to rescue them. We should come to their rescue.”

No mandate’

In an interview broadcast just before the security council voted on the resolution, Gaddafi dismissed its actions.

No mandate’

In an interview broadcast just before the security council voted on the resolution, Gaddafi dismissed its actions.

The UN Security Council has no mandate. We don’t acknowledge their resolutions,” he told the Portuguese public Radiotelevisao Portuguesa.

He pledged to respond harshly to UN-sponsored attacks. “If the world is crazy, we will be crazy too,” he said.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said there was not much time left for the international community to act.

“France is very much involved in this action and has prepared the draft resolution. We have one goal… we want to stop the attacks by the Gaddafi regime against civilian populations.

“And it’s a question of days or hours because the pressure against Benghazi, especially, is now very tough.”

Diplomats indicated that air strikes from a coalition led by Britain, France and the United States could be imminent; however, the UN resolution rules out sending foreign ground troops.

Earlier the Libyan defence ministry warned that “any military operation against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean to danger.”

“Any civilian or military moving traffic will be the target of a Libyan counter-offensive,” the official Jana news agency quoted the defence ministry spokesman as saying.

Battle zones

The latest developments came amid claims and counter-claims about the progress of fighting, which could not be independently confirmed.

State television said loyalists were on the outskirts of Benghazi, while the opposition claimed that fighters in Benghazi had shot down two government warplanes.

Opposition fighters in the western city of Zintan, about 120km southwest of the capital Tripoli, said they were bracing for an attack by forces loyal to Gaddafi.

“According to the fighters, forces loyal to Gaddafi are trying to encircle Zintan. There are troop movements around the north and southwest. They expect a big attack on the city. I heard no gunfire this morning. They say they blocked the main column [of tanks] during the night,” a witness told the AFP news agency.

Fighting is also raging for the control of Ajdabiya, the gateway to Benghazi.

A doctor told the AFP news agency that fighting was still going on in and around the town, which also guards the road to Tobruk and the Egyptian border in the rebel-held east.

In Tobruk, Al Jazeera’s James Bays reported that there was concern on the part of pro-democracy fighters that Gaddafi’s forces were attempting to encircle the opposition-held areas.

Source-Aljazeera

Be Sociable, Share!
Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Get Adobe Flash player