U.S. Launches First Missiles Against Gadhafi Forces
With Moammar Gadhafi apparently on the offensive, the United States has joined forces with other nations and has officially launched attacks with Tomahawk missiles. As you will read below, the U.S. is careful not to announce themselves as the leader in these attacks, but using our military in conjunction with other countries.
The U.S. military has launched its first missiles in Libya against Moammar Gadhafi's forces, a senior Defense Department official said Saturday.
Earlier, French fighter jets deployed over Libya fired at a military vehicle on Saturday, the country's first strike against Moammar Gadhafi's military forces who earlier attacked the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
U.S. Tomahawk missiles have landed in the western area around Tripoli and Misrata, the American military official said.
"He's clearly been on the offensive," the official said of Gadhafi. "He said that he was going to do a cease-fire and he continued to move his forces into Benghazi."
The military official said the attacks on Gadhafi's forces will be part of a multiphase approach in a sequential and deliberate manner.
"The U.S. will be at the front end of this, providing the unique capabilities that the U.S has," the official said.
While French jets launched the first attacks on Gadhafi's forces, Americans jets will be part of the enforcement. "When this commences, we'll have American aircraft involved," the official said.
The French Defense Ministry said its attack aircraft being used to take out tanks and artillery have deemed Benghazi and the surrounding area an "exclusion zone."
The French are using surveillance aircraft and two frigates in the operation to protect civilians. The aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle will soon depart Toulon, France.
"Our air force will oppose any aggression by Colonel Gadhafi against the population of Benghazi," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking after an international, top-level meeting in Paris over the Libyan crisis.
"As of now, our aircraft are preventing planes from attacking the town," he said, calling the intervention a "grave decision."
The international show of force is much welcomed by besieged rebel forces who have called for backup to help them stave off a government offensive against their positions in Benghazi and other rebel-held enclaves
An opposition spokesman in Benghazi said Gadhafi forces that assaulted the city earlier Saturday are now positioned outside the town. However, the forces are preparing for more attacks.
Western and Arab allies were coordinating the use of military assets to thwart Gadhafi's offensive.
Canada will be one of four principal partners helping to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. Six Canadian CF-18 fighter jets are en route to an Italian base in Sicily and the HMCS Charlottetown will be in position to help with the naval blockade against Libya.
British officials held a crisis meeting Saturday evening.
The United States continued to broadcast the message that it is a member of, and is assisting, the coalition, rather than taking the lead role.
"America has unique capabilities, and we will bring them to bear to help our European and Canadian allies and Arab partners to stop further violence against civilians including through the effective implementation of a no-fly zone," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
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