US, UK fire over 110 cruise missiles at Libyan targets
Western forces bombard areas of Tripoli and fuel storage tanks; French war planes also hit four Libyan tanks near Benghazi; attacks come after UN-mandated military intervention gets underway in Libya.
US and British ships and submarines fired more than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libyan targets to take out their air defenses, a senior US military official said on Saturday.
The US also launched cruise missiles from a warship against Libyan targets, as part of a UN-mandated intervention in Libya.
Earlier Saturday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that Western air forces, with Arab League approval, had gone into action over Libya and were preventing Gaddafi's forces from attacking Benghazi.
"As of now, our planes are preventing air attacks on the city of Benghazi," he said adding that military action supported by France, Britain, the United States and Canada and backed by Arab nations could be halted if Gaddafi stopped his forces attacking.
British and French jets over Libya. US, UK ships fire 112 Tomahawks
Twenty French fighter jets destroyed a number of tanks in Benghazi Saturday, March 19, in the first shots of the Western-Arab operation authorized by the UN Security Council 1973 against Muammar Qaddafi, soon joined by British jet fighters.
After the US stated it would not take part in the first action or send troops, a US submarine and UK warships fired 112 Tomahawk missiles at 20 Libyan targets east of Tripoli, among them the Libyan army's supreme command center near the town of Sirte and air defenses. Casualties have not been reported.
A seaborne missile attack on the Libyan coast was indicated by the arrival in the Mediterranean of the nuclear assault submarine USS Providence last Monday, March 14. This sub has played a part in every important US missile offensive in the last decade, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq as well as important missions in Afghanistan.
The score of coalition ranged opposite Libyan shores at present include the USS Kearsage marine helicopter carrier, the Amphibious Transport Docks and the USS Ponce, USS Barry and USS Mason guided missile destroyers.
French warplanes went into attack formation over Libya Saturday afternoon, March 19, without waiting for 22 world powers meeting in Paris to issue a communiqué confirming a military operation against Muammar Qaddafi in line with the UN Security Council resolution.
It was agreed that France, Britain, Norway, Qatar and Canada would take part in the offensive with 31 targets planned for first stage, 2 military airfields and Qaddafi's palace in the second and Libyan forces in the third. Britain and France have imposed a sea blockade on Libyan shores. French defense officials says French fighter jet has fired on a Libyan military vehicle. Twenty planes taking part in mission.
The coalition of powers plans to expand its operations in the next 24 hours and then wait to see how Qaddafi responds.
The Libyan ruler last week threatened retaliation against the military and civilian targets of any nations attacking him in Europe and the Middle East. Saturday, he warned the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British premier David Cameron they would regret leading the group attacking his country.
Western intelligence experts calculate that he may he decide to strike back at French and British Middle East targets by air might, missiles and special forces, as well possibly as hitting civilian locations inside France. If this happens, the Americans are expected to join the anti-Qaddafi operation using their naval and air forces.
Civilian causalities in Western strikes on Libya
"Civilian targets are being bombed by the 'Crusader' enemy fighter planes in Tripoli,'' Libyan state television said.
The official news agency Jana said there were "civilians casualties as a result of this aggression''.
State television also reported that Western forces bombed fuel tanks feeding the rebel-held city of Misrata, east of Tripoli.
Targets were hit in Tripoli, the western cities of Misrata and Zuwarah and the eastern rebel bastion of Benghazi, the spokesman said.
It was claimed the Beir al-Osta Milad hospital in a Tripoli suburb was also hit.
Hopefully this will be a brief effort and normalcy will resume in Libya. We can only hope that this latest initiative won't end up being yet another never-ending engagement such as Afghanistan or Iraq. Only time will tell - but as of now, we are definitely "involved".