US & allies military to take on Libya within hours

Libya map
Cairo/Washington, Mar 18: Military action by the US and its European allies against Libya would come within hours and the effort to put the brakes on Gaddafi's offensive into the east could involve some key Arab nations.

Obama Administration has readied plans to enforce the no-fly zone and allied warplanes could be over Libya by Sunday or Monday, CNN reported quoting top Pentagon officials.

But a French Government Spokesman Francois Baroin was quoted by BBC as saying that the strikes could come "rapidly... within a few hours", and that Paris would participate in the action.

BBC said that other major EU nations including Germany, UK, Denmark and Norway have said that they were ready to send fighter units to ground the Libyan airforce.

As the news of rapid deployment by the allies came in, Al Jazeera said Muammar Gaddafi's forces had launched an all out attack to capture the city of Misurata.

The Arab channel said that Libyan Army artillery guns and tanks were shelling the rebel bastion of Misurata, east of Tripoli after a nightlong intense fighting with the rebels for the control of the town.

Though the rebels claimed they were holding on to the town, Al Jazeera quoted Libyan State Television as claiming that Gaddafi loyalists had overrun Misurata which is 210 kilometre from the Libyan capital.

Further east, the Arab Channel said pitched battles were going on around the Ajdaibya and that Gaddafi's ground forces were still about 90 kms south of Benghazi and it was unclear whether the troops would risk moving further.

Al Jazeera said that in today's assault on Misurata as well on the Benghazi front, Gaddafi was not using airpower or helicopter gunships.

Prior to the enforcement of the no-fly zone, NATO has launched a 24 hour air surveillance of Libya by Sentry AWACS.

US has also already positioned warships off the Libyan coast and in UK British Forces were on standby for air strikes and could be mobilised by Sunday.

A huge crowd had assembled in Benghazi to watch the crucial UN vote on outdoor TV projection and burst into celebrations once the approval of the no-fly zone was announced.

ABC said that US was keen to involve Arab nations in the enforcement of the no-fly zone and quoted officials as saying that Jordan, Qatar and the UAE were among possible participants.


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