NATO to enforce no-fly zone over Libya

Following six days of intense negotiations among its member states, NATO has finally agreed to assume control of the no-fly zone in Libya, where western warplanes continued their air strikes.

Control of the military campaign in Libya, which was authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1973 and is known as Odyssey Dawn, will be transferred from the coalition forces to NATO in 1-2 days. 

We are taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect civilians against the attacks by the Gaddafi regime,” alliance Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. “We will cooperate with our partners in the region and welcome their contributions.” 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was ready to transfer control of its operations to the alliance, which has agreed to “take on the broader civilian protection mission.” 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy qualified the move by noting on Thursday that NATO’s role would entail coordinating the technical aspects of the military operation, while its political coordination would remain the responsibility of all the coalition states, which includes Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Turkey, which previously ruled out its participation in the operation, has rendered five ships and one submarine, making the most significant contribution of all NATO members. Ankara has also agreed to provide a squadron of fighter jets.

Meanwhile, the Libyan capital Tripoli continued experiencing air strikes, which Muammar Gaddafi’s government claims have killed more than 100 people.

RT’s Paula Slier said security in central Tripoli has remained unusually high in preparation for possible mass protests following Friday midday prayers. Fuel was running low, threatening to shut down the city’s infrastructure. More people continue to flee Libya, with approximately 300,000 reported to have already left the troubled country.

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