Coalition bombards Gaddafi's command centre near his home

Muammar Gaddafi
Tripoli/Cairo, Mar 21: Western forces intensified strikes on Libyan defence targets flattening a command centre close to Muammar Gaddafi's private residence, as more nations joined the campaign in Libya and the Arab League declared its commitment to the UN-mandated action after initially voicing concerns over the bombardment.

US President Barack Obama said today that he favours the Libyan leader's ouster from power but added that the UN-authorised effort's was limited to establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and protecting civilians.

Obama said the United States would transfer leadership of the military operation to other, unnamed participants within a matter of days, not weeks, but he declined to provide a more precise timetable. Obama, however, said that it was US policy that Gaddafi needs to go.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also said that there is no decent future for Libya with Gaddafi but the coalition had no legal authority for bringing out a regime change.

The western powers denied that civilians had been killed in their operations which got underway after the UN Security Council (UNSC) gave its nod for imposing a ''no fly'' zone over Libya.

A rebel spokesman, meanwhile, said at least 40 people had died today in fire from Gaddafi's forces in Misrata.

A coalition official said Gaddafi''s "command and control capability" inside the Libyan leader's compound at Bab el-Aziziya in south of capital Tripoli had been demolished.

It was unclear where Gaddafi was at the time of the strike on his air defences as part of a renewed allied assault on Libya involving British submarines and RAF Tornado jets.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the US expects to turn control of the Libya military mission over to a coalition probably headed either by the French and British or by NATO "in a matter of days".

The Arab League which had earlier voiced concern over civilian casualties in the bombardment, later got back behind the campaign.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa declared his commitment to the UN-mandated action after a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and talks with Cameron.

"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone," Amr Mussa had earlier said.

"What we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians," Mussa said.

The three-storey administrative building which was flattened is about 50 metres from Gaddafi's iconic tent where the Libyan strongman generally meets guests in Tripoli. It was hit by a missile, Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters who were taken to the site by bus.


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