The first U.S. air strikes against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were launched on Saturday, Mar. 19.
“Earlier this afternoon, over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from both U.S. and British ships and submarines – struck more than 20 integrated air defense systems and other air defense facilities ashore,” U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney told CNN.
The tomahawk cruise missiles landed somewhere around Tripoli and Misurata, according to recent news reports. This was in response to Gadhafi’s refusal to cooperate with a cease fire.
On Feb. 24, protesters in Libya began a series of confrontations to which Gadhafi responded with cutting off communications, censorship, and deadly military force. While he maintained order in his stronghold of Tripoli, rebels organized a government in Benghazi called the National Transitional Council. Vowing to stay in power at all costs, Gadhafi opened fire on his own people, retaking several coastal cities. He declared a cease fire on Mar. 18, however he began an attack on Benghazi on Mar. 19.
On Mar. 17, the United Nations announced a resolution which authorized its members to enforce a no fly zone over Libya and “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force,” a recent report from the UN News Center stated.
President Obama confirmed he had authorized “limited military action in Libya” and he told USA Today, “We are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal — specifically, the protection of civilians in Libya.”
“In terms of the heavy kinetic portion of this military action, the president envisions it as lasting days, not weeks,” a senior administration official, who was not authorized to speak about sensitive military matters, told CNN. “After that we’ll take more of a supporting role.”
The airstrikes in Libya are part of a multi-part military operation. Gortney told CNN that the second phase will include planes flying over Libya near Tripoli and close to Benghazi in the Mediterranean Sea. This no fly zone will hopefully prevent further attacks by Gadhafi’s forces on Libyan citizens and opposition groups around Benghazi.
To date, four other countries have joined the United States including the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, and France in what is being called Operation Odyssey Dawn.
By Melissa Wong, Dunwoody Managing Editor