"Gaddafi's troops have been pushed back, but they remain a serious threat to the safety of the people," Clinton said in her remarks to the press late yesterday evening.
"After only five days, significant progress has been made. A massacre in Benghazi was prevented. Gaddafi's air force and air defences have been rendered largely ineffective. And the coalition is in control of the skies above Libya," she said.
Referring to the statement by US President Barack Obama that the role of the US military would be limited in time and scope, Clinton said the US mission has been to use America's unique capabilities to create conditions for the 'no-fly' zone, and to assist in meeting urgent humanitarian needs.
"As expected, we're already seeing a significant reduction in the number of US planes involved in operations as the number of planes from other countries increase in numbers," she said.
Clinton said the US-led coalition has taken this step only at the appeal made by the Libyan people.
"Events have moved very quickly, so let's be clear about where we stand and how we got here. When the Libyan people sought to realise their democratic aspirations, they were met by extreme violence from their own government.
"The Libyan people appealed to the world to help stop the brutal attacks on them, and the world listened. The Arab League called for urgent action," she said.
Clinton said the UN Security Council in its response had mandated all necessary measures to protect civilians, including a 'no-fly' zone.
"But the regime's forces continued their assaults, and last weekend they reached Benghazi itself. We faced the prospect of an imminent humanitarian disaster. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were in danger. So an international coalition was compelled to act," she said.