21 Mar 2011

LIVE BLOG: Libya – Operation Odyssey Dawn

As RAF jets target Libyan air defence and weapons sites alongside US and French forces – latest updates and video from #c4news. Add your voice via the live blog, Twitter or Facebook.

LIVE BLOG: Operation Odyssey Dawn/Operation Ellamy. (Picture: MoD)
Libya: Operation Odyssey Dawn updates

09.00 Second night of strikes targets Gaddafi forces overnight as William Hague says Arab League “still support” the air attacks.


19.00 Libya declares a fresh ceasefire after a day of bombardment from western forces. A government spokesman in Tripoli said: “We, the Popular Social Leadership of Libya, recommend to the armed forces to announce an immediate ceasefire to all military units.”

18.45 Reports Colonel Gaddafi‘s government has called for a “march to Benghazi“.

18.15 Reports of heavy anti-aircraft fire heard over central Tripoli.

17.50 Four Qatari planes are to move into the Libyan zone of operations, says French Defence Ministry spokesman.

17.30 Responding to criticism from the Arab League, a Foreign Office spokesperson says: “Unlike Gaddafi, the coalition is not attacking civilians.

(Above: Channel 4 News International Editor Lindsey Hilsum reports from Benghazi)

“The UN resolution authorises all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people. For the No Fly Zone to be enforced safely, it is necessary to carry out carefully targeted operations against Libyan air defence capabilities.

Unlike Gaddafi, the coalition is not attacking civilians. Foreign Office spokesperson

“All missions are meticulously planned to ensure every care is taken to avoid civilian casualties. We will continue to work with our Arab partners to enforce the resolution for the good of the Libyan people.”

17.10 The United States expects to conduct more strikes on Libya, a senior US military official says – on condition of anonymity. The official also said that General Carter Ham, head of US Africa Command and currently heading operations against Gaddafi, was “working very hard to effect transition in the next few days” to coalition leadership.

16.00 A US official representing President Obama during a visit to Brazil insists: “The resolution endorsed by Arabs and the United Nations Security Council included ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians, which we made very clear includes, but goes beyond, a no-fly zone.”

What we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians. Amr Moussa, Arab League

15.30 Libya‘s Al-Watyah air base, 100 miles south west of the capital Tripoli, was among the targets of the strikes. “They tried to attack the (base’s) anti-aircraft defences,” said a Libyan official. “Some were damaged.” He said there was no other damage to the base.

15.00 Missile strikes launched by the US and Britain against Colonel Gaddafi’s air defenses hit 20 of 22 targets, according to the American military. Lieutenant Commander James Stockman said they caused “various levels of damage.

14.45 The US confirms aircraft from Qatar are moving into position near Libya to participate in the western military operation against Colonel Gaddafi.

14.25 Italy says its aircraft are ready to join operations in Libya. Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa: “We want to participate as equals in the operation.”

Libya airstrikes: Gaddafi tanks. (Picture via @ChangeInLibya/Twitter)

(Gaddafi tanks targeted by French jets – picture via @ChangeInLibya/Twitter)

14.20 The leader of the Arab League says that Arabs did not want military strikes by western powers when they had called for a no-fly zone over Libya. Secretary-General Amr Moussa said he was calling for an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

“What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians,” he said.

14.00 Admiral Mike Mullen, the top US military commander, concedes the end-game of military action in Libya is “very uncertain”. He acknowledged it could end in a stalemate with Colonel Gaddafi.

13.30 Reports forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi have entered the centre of the rebel-held city of Misrata with tanks. Residents say that several people have been killed by gunfire.

Live blog comment from koomquat: Why is it that people like David Cameron and others are smiling on their way to conflict claiming to be right and just? There are other options available and these are never explored or discussed.

“Two people were killed so far today by snipers. They are still on the rooftops. They are backed with four tanks, which have been patrolling the town. It’s getting very difficult for people to come out,” one resident told Reuters.

13.20 A resident of Misrata claims pro-Gaddafi forces are using boats to blockade the city’s port and to prevent supplies from entering.

13.15 Russia calls on Britain, France and the US to stop air strikes against what it said were non-military targets in Libya, saying the attacks had caused civillian casualities.

Blog: Can Gaddafi stay in power?

Libya air attack: vehicles belonging to pro_Gaddafi forces explode. (Reuters)

(Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah – Reuters)

13.00 Libya’s government has begun distributing arms to more than one million people, the state news agency reports.

12.30 A Libyan government health official says the number of people killed as a result of western air strikes overnight has risen to 64.

11.40 US military says planes have struck Gaddafi ground forces. “US Navy Growlers provided electronic warfare support over Libya while AV-8B Harriers from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted strikes against (Gaddafi’s) ground forces and air defenses,” the US military said in a statement.

11.00 Defence analyst Anthony Tucker-Jones tells Channel 4 News the airstrikes are evidence that while the international community was being criticised for a lack of urgency in the Libya crisis, in fact it was quietly and efficient planning to stop Colonel Gaddafi.

Read more: UN hits Gaddafi hard

10.00 The UK hails the first phase of coalition air attacks on Libya a success. The RAF said they were “entirely comfortable” with the success of the bombing raids.

Overnight Tornado GR4 fast jets and a Royal Navy Trafalgar-class submarine are involved in striking “high value targets” in the Libyan capital Tripoli and other parts of Libya as the international community takes joint action against Gaddafi. Tornados flew from RAF Marham, in Norfolk, as part of an eight-hour, 3,000 mile round mission, the longest since the Falklands conflict.

UK deployments in Libya
Tornado GR4: flexible ground attack and surveillance. Uses Storm Shadow missiles.
Storm Shadow missiles: have their own flight controls.
E-3D Sentry: airborne command and control - "ringmaster" using air and sea surveillance to range of 300 miles - to co-ordinates planes.

Saturday 20 March

UN-backed military action by France, Britain and the US begins against Libya at 1600 GMT. David Cameron gives a statement saying the airstrikes are “legal” and “right”.

Read more: Libya: missile and air strikes target Gaddafi forces

The prime minister said: “We have all seen the appalling brutality Colonel Gaddafi has meted out against his own people. What we are doing is necessary, it is legal and it is right.”

What we are doing is necessary, it is legal and it is right. David Cameron

US President Barack Obama said: “We can’t stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy added: “Those taking part agreed to put in place all necessary means, especially military, to enforce the decisions of the United Nations Security Council.”

In response Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi hit back: “We will not leave our land and we will liberate it.”

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