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March 31, 2011

Libyan foreign minister defects to the UK

Libyan foreign minister defects to the UK

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Mussa Kussa
Image: US Dept. of State.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Libyan foreign minister Mussa Kussa has fled to the United Kingdom and has announced that he is no longer willing to work for Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

A spokesman for the UK government said Kussa “arrived at Farnborough Airport on 30 March from Tunisia. He travelled here under his own free will.” He added: “Moussa Kussa is one of the most senior figures in Gaddafi’s government and his role was to represent the regime internationally—something that he is no longer willing to do. We encourage those around Gaddafi to abandon him and embrace a better future for Libya that allows political transition and real reform that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people.”

Kussa is the highest ranking government official of Libya to defect as of late, and is a blow to Gaddaffi, as his government in recent weeks has been trying to crush rebellions that have sprung-up after a series of protests and revolutions occurred throughout the Middle East, demanding their leaders step down from power.

Before the defection, it was reported government forces have recently taken back the port-town of Ras Lanuf and the nearby town of Bin Jawad.

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US President Obama considering supplying arms to Libyan rebels

US President Obama considering supplying arms to Libyan rebels

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

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A portrait of US President Barack Obama
Image: Pete Souza.

United States President Barack Obama revealed Tuesday that he is considering supplying arms to Libyan rebels, among other things. Obama was quoted as saying, “if we [USA] wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could.”

During an interview with NBC News, Obama disclosed he is, “not ruling it out. But I’m also not ruling it in. We’re still making an assessment partly about what Gaddafi’s forces are going to be doing.” Obama also informed that he would be willing to negotiate a deal with Gaddafi; however, one clause would involve Gadaffi resigning from the leadership post.

Obama does not believe it is time for formal negotiations yet as he does not think Gaddafi has reached the point where he needs a quick way out.

Also mentioned in the interview was the strategy being used in Libya. “What we’ve also done is put Gaddafi back on his heels — at this point. In addition to maintaining a no-fly zone, protecting civilian populations, we also have political tools, diplomatic tools, sanctions, freezing his assets, all of which continue to tighten the noose.”

Obama reiterated that same view on ABC News saying in an interview, “I think what we’re seeing is that the circle around Gaddafi understands that the noose is tightening, that their days are probably numbered, and they are going to have to think through what their next steps are.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with CBS News, Obama said of the rebels leaders that U.S. officials have met with are “[F]ully vetted, so we have a clear sense of who they are, and so far they’re saying the right things, and most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors, people who appear to be credible.”

This comes after the NATO supreme commander, Admiral James G. Stavridis said there were “flickers” of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah in Libya. In response, Obama said on CBS, “[T]hat doesn’t mean that all the people, among all the people who opposed Qaddafi, there might not be elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests. That’s why I think it’s important for us not to jump in with both feet.”

As for the rebels themselves, Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the rebels told the New York Times, “We ask for political support more than arms, but if we have both, that would be good.”



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March 30, 2011

Gaddafi loyalists go on offensive, rebels pushed back

Gaddafi loyalists go on offensive, rebels pushed back

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Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
Image: U.S. Navy.

Libya
Other stories from Libya
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Troops loyal to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi launched an offensive Tuesday and managed to push rebel forces out of the town of Bin Jawad. This comes as world powers met the same day to discuss the future of the country.

Rebels disclosed that their troops in Bin Jawad came under heavy artillery and rocket fire, after which they made a hasty retreat. Rebels who were still in the open desert sought cover and fired at Gaddafi troops as they appeared. One rebel warrior said that the shelling was too much for them to handle, A rebel fighter, Ashraf Mohammed, was quoted by Reuters as saying, “[t]he Gaddafi guys hit us with Grads [rockets] and they came round our flanks.”

Rebel forces retreated to the city of Ras Lanuf, which they had captured days before on Sunday, where they recuperated. However, they were not completely safe there as they came under heavy gunfire at the western fringe of town and had to defend themselves with any weapons that they could find.

Civilians also retreated from the war zone. One man criticized rebel troops, telling them to “[g]et yourselves up there and stop posing for pictures.”

Today’s battle marked a shift of momentum in favour of government troops; earlier this week rebels held the advantage over pro-Gaddafi forces as they made their westward march with little to no resistance.



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March 26, 2011

Qatar becomes first Arab country to fly fighter jets over Libya

Qatar becomes first Arab country to fly fighter jets over Libya

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mirage 2000

Qatar participated in a combat mission to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya on Friday, one day after NATO agreed to take command. Qatar is the first Arab country to take part in the operation against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The French Defence Ministry said two Qatai Mirage 2000 interceptor fighters flew Qatar’s first sortie over Libya accompanied by a French jet.

Besides Qatar, the United Arab Emirates has agreed to send 12 warplanes to support the international no-fly alliance. No other countries from the Arab League have agreed to join so far. Qatar’s combat deployment as the first by an Arab or Muslim-majority country thus is of critical impact.

Cquote1.svg Having our first Arab nation join and start flying with us emphasizes that the world wants the innocent Libyan people protected from the atrocities perpetrated by pro-regime forces Cquote2.svg

U.S. Air Forces Africa Commander Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward

Qatar’s participation has great diplomatic importance. Major General Margaret Woodward, Commander of U.S. Air Forces Africa, stated: “Having our first Arab nation join and start flying with us emphasizes that the world wants the innocent Libyan people protected from the atrocities perpetrated by pro-regime forces”.

The emir of Qatar has typically preferred subtle diplomacy rather than confrontation, as Qatar is vulnerable because of its tiny size and its position on the tip of the Arabian peninsula. Qatar’s decision to send planes is related to its need to maintain its independence from its bigger neighbors like Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to The Guardian.

France, the United Kingdom and the United States are among thirteen states which have so far joined the no-fly mission over Libya. The no-fly zone over Libya was established by the UN Security Council on March 17.



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March 25, 2011

NATO to take control of Libyan no-fly zone

NATO to take control of Libyan no-fly zone

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Friday, March 25, 2011

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NATO has agreed to take control of the no-fly zone in Libya as early as this weekend, after a unanimous vote to do so by all 28 member states.

Only the no-fly zone will be the responsibility of NATO forces; other military operations in Libya will remain under the control of the group of nations already involved. A two-level command system will be put in place, with political oversight being the responsibility of a new committee headed by NATO but also including other countries that are engaged in military operations in Libya. Deployment of military assets will fall under the purview of NATO alone.

An agreement was reached on Wednesday afternoon, after a conference call between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British foreign secretary William Hague, French foreign minister Alain Juppe, and the Turkish foreign minister. This was proposed to the North Atlantic Council, and NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen later confirmed that all NATO members had agreed to implement it.

Turkey and France had previously disagreed over the issue of NATO control, with France opposed and Turkey in favor of having NATO command of military forces.

Hague said of the agreement that “this is a new coalition, put together very quickly for obvious reasons last week, and so there are bound to be issues to sort out in its management. But we are getting through those pretty well.”


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March 24, 2011

Libyan city of Misrata reported to be secure after Gaddafi forces retreat

Libyan city of Misrata reported to be secure after Gaddafi forces retreat

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

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Airstrikes in the Libyan city of Misrata are reported to have forced pro-government forces to retreat after a multi-day assault on the city.

Early on Wednesday, aircraft from allied countries began flying sorties over the city and dropping bombs. The strikes destroyed much of the equipment of government forces, including tanks and artillery, and after about twelve hours pro-Gaddafi troops retreated from the area.

All troops save individual snipers are reported to have left Misrata, marking the end of five days of attacks by government forces seeking to retake control of the city. The assault has reportedly killed close to a hundred people.

According to a witness, Mohammed Ali, who works at the main hospital, aircraft “bombed a lot of sites of the Gaddafi army. There is a former hospital where his tanks were based. All the tanks and the hospital were destroyed. A column of tanks was destroyed on the edge of the city. […] All that is left is [sic] the snipers and our fighters can take care of them.”

He went on to say that 94 people have died since government forces began their attack on the city, with more than 1,300 having been injured.



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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Battle of Misrata

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March 22, 2011

U.S. military denies reports helicopter opened fire on Libyan civilians during rescue mission

U.S. military denies reports helicopter opened fire on Libyan civilians during rescue mission

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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File photograph of a V-22 Osprey.
Image: U.S. Navy.

Wikinews understands the Pentagon is to open an investigation into the rescue mission.
Image: Mariordo.

A spokesperson for the United States military has tonight categorically denied reports of a U.S. helicopter opening fire on Libyan civilians during a rescue mission of two fighter pilots who crashed near the eastern city of Benghazi.

Conflicting reports have emerged of the mission to rescue the two U.S. fighter pilots who ejected from their aircraft. The F-15E Strike Eagle that they were flying reportedly suffered a mechanical failure on Monday night and crashed. Soon after the accident, a U.S. military helicopter landed in the area to extract the airmen and reportedly opened fire on civilians, wounding six of them.

Unconfirmed reports indicate the six civilians were taken to a hospital in the area after being fired upon by the helicopter, a V-22 Osprey. One of the wounded, a young boy, was shot in the leg, which will likely now require amputation. Another of those reported injured said the shooting caused “great panic.” Wikinews understands the Pentagon is to open an investigation into the rescue mission.

However, a U.S. military spokesperson denied the reports “one hundred percent”, and said the incident “didn’t happen”. He said the aircraft which rescued the two airman was not fitted with weapons. “The Osprey is not armed and the Marines barely came off the aircraft,” he said.

The pilot of the fighter aircraft was extracted during the rescue mission, while the weapons officer was found and cared for by Libyan rebels before later being retrieved by American forces. Both crew members suffered only minor injuries, the military said. The fighter aircraft was deployed over Libya in support of the no-fly zone approved by the United Nations Security Council over Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn.



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March 19, 2011

US and UK forces join Libyan attack

US and UK forces join Libyan attack – Wikinews, the free news source

US and UK forces join Libyan attack

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

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After French aircraft began missions over Libya, attacks from the United States and United Kingdom have begun.

Upwards of 110 Tomahawk missiles have been fired by US and UK warships and submarines in the Mediterranean Sea. Targets include the capitol of Tripoli and military installations around the country. The attacks have been code-named “Operation Odyssey Dawn.”

In addition to French aircraft, David Cameron said that British aircraft are also taking part in airstrikes. Cameron said that “Gaddafi has made this happen. He has lied to the international community. He has promised a ceasefire. He has broken that ceasefire. He continues to brutalise his own people. The time for action has come.”

Gaddafi has issued a letter to several international leaders in which he said that “Libya is not yours. Libya is for the Libyans. The security council resolution is invalid. You will regret it if you dare to intervene in our country.”



Related news

  • “French aircraft on flights over Libya; US missiles launched at targets” — Wikinews,

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March 17, 2011

UN Security Council approves Libya no-fly zone

UN Security Council approves Libya no-fly zone

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

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The United Nations Security Council has approved the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya after a vote on Thursday evening.

A meeting in New York City resulted in the approval of a resolution that would mark the beginning of “all necessary measures short of an occupation force to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas” in Libya. The vote on the measure passed with ten of the fifteen members of the Security Council in support and Russia, China, India, Germany and Brazil absenting.

The resolution had been proposed by the United Kingdom, France and Lebanon. In his remarks introducing the measure before the Council, Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said that “[w]e cannot let these warmongers do this, we cannot abandon civilians.”

Air attacks on government forces in Libya could take place within hours, flown by the French and British air forces, after NATO meets to review plans for military action.

In response to the vote, a statement aired on Libyan state TV said that “[a]ny foreign military act against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger, and civilian and military [facilities] will become targets of Libya’s counterattack.”

Libya’s ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, also said that government troops planned to move against Benghazi Thursday night. “No more fear, no more hesitation, the moment of truth has come. […] There will be no mercy. Our troops will be coming to Benghazi tonight.”

The UK ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said after the vote that “[t]he international community has come together in deploring the actions of the Gaddafi regime and demanding that the regime end this violence against the Libyan people.”

In Benghazi, rebels celebrated the passage of the resolution with fireworks after a live broadcast of the vote was shown on an outdoor projection.



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Libyan rebels and Gaddafi troops in battle on two fronts

Libyan rebels and Gaddafi troops in battle on two fronts

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

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Libyan government forces and rebel fighters have been fighting in two different cities Wednesday, in both the east and west of the country.

Fighting was reported in the cities of Ajdabiya, an eastern city that is the last settlement before Benghazi, the main rebel location, and in Misrata, the only town still controlled by rebels in western Libya. Rebels claimed to have held off government troops in both cities, though dozens of people are reported dead in the latest violence.

Control of Ajdabiya has reportedly shifted between government and rebel troops in the past two days. Government forces apparently captured the city during the day on Tuesday, but retreated by evening. On Wednesday, the city was under attack by airplanes, tanks and mortars. At the end of the day, the rebels still appeared to control much of the city.

According to a doctor in the city, at least 26 people have died in Ajdabiya in the past two days. On Tuesday, Libyan state TV reported that Ajdabiya was “totally controlled and is being cleansed of armed gangs.” However, a rebel official later said that “[t]here’s heavy, sustained tank shelling and earlier there were air strikes, but now the revolutionaries managed to take seven tanks from those dogs and, God willing, we will succeed.”

Rebel leaders also claimed that warplanes and a helicopter under their command had been involved in the fighting, and said they had superior weapons than government forces. Outside the city, however, government forces were reported to be amassing several hundred troops, as well as increasing supplies of ammunition and weaponry.

In Misrata, rebels claim that they had repelled government forces using tanks and other artillery weapons, though this could not be confirmed. Eleven people are reported to have died on Wednesday in Misrata.

International diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation continue. French president Nicolas Sarkozy wrote to the UN Security Council in support of a proposed resolution that includes the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya. The international community is still split on the idea of military intervention, though; while the Arab League supports a no-fly zone, a G8 meeting on Tuesday ended without support for the idea.



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