French air forces are defending the rebellious Libyan city of Benghazi from the troops loyal to strongman Muammar Gaddafi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Saturday.
Paris has taken the leading role in coordinating the world’s response to the tumult in Libya and takes efforts to halt Gaddafi’s attacks on the poorly armed rebel forces.
“At unity with our partners our air forces will counteract any attacks from Col. Gaddafi planes on the residents of Benghazi. Other French aircraft are ready to countervail against armored vehicles which may threaten civilians,” Sarkozy said after the completion of international meeting dedicated to the situation in Libya which was held in Elysee Palace.
The UN Security Council voted on Thursday in favor of a new resolution on Libya that encompasses a no-fly zone and “all necessary measures” against forces loyal to Gaddafi. It also stipulates military action against Gaddafi’s troops if he continues attacking civilians.
NATO members Britain, Denmark, Spain and Canada, along with the United States, have also pledged planes to a mission over Libya, while Qatar said it would participate in the plan. The allies have already geared up for Libya push.
At least 26 were killed and over 40 were wounded after Gaddafi forces pounded Benghazi on Saturday, the Al Jazeera TV channel said.
Gaddafi’s forces, in tanks and trucks, entered the rebel stronghold; artillery and rockets bombarded its neighborhoods. Some of the shells hit civilian areas, wounding women and children.
Sarkozy said he does not rule out peace talks with Gaddafi but only after complete ceasefire. “Col. Gaddafi still has time to avoid the worst, but he must fulfill all the requirements of the world community.”
PARIS, March 19 (RIA Novosti)