Saturday, March 19, 2011

French military jet opens fire in Libya

A French plane has fired the first shots in Libya as enforcement of the UN-mandated no-fly zone begins. The target was a military vehicle, the French defence ministry said.
It came hours after Western and Arab leaders met in Paris to agree a course of action to confront Col Gaddafi.

"Our air force will oppose any aggression," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Earlier, pro-Gaddafi forces attacked the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

However, the Libyan government has denied launching any assault

The French plane fired the first shot in Libya at 1645 GMT and destroyed its target, according to a military spokesman.

French planes also flew reconnaissance missions over "all Libyan territory", French military sources said earlier.

Around 20 French aircraft were involved in Saturday's operation, a defence ministry official told the Reuters news agency.

Other air forces and navies are expected to join the French.

The US would use its "unique capabilities" to reinforce the no-fly zone, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, warning that further delays would put more civilians at risk. However, Mrs Clinton said again that the US would not deploy ground troops in Libya.

A naval blockade is also being put in place, said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. France is sending its Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier to the Libyan coast, a military spokesman said.

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