Western Coalition Shatters Gaddafi's Air Defenses in Libya
The Western coalition that started striking the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi on Saturday has incurred serious damage to his air defenses and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA).
The precise extent of the damage will be known on Sunday as the daylight kicks in, US officials have announced as cited by ITAR-TASS.
Five Western nations – the USA, the UK, France, Italy, and Canada – have been identified as participating in "Operation Odyssey Dawn" – air and missile strikes against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Operation Odyssey Dawn is supposed to create a no-fly zone over Libya as mandated by Resolution 1973 of the UN Security Council approved Thursday.
US-led coalition forces have fired about 100 sea-based Tomahawk missiles striking some 20 air defense targets in Libya, US Vice Admiral William Gortney announced in the Pentagon in Washington, DC, several hours after Operation Odyssey Dawn started.
Gortney is the Director of the Joint Staff who assists the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US armed forces.
"The United States military has and will continue to use our unique capabilities to create the conditions from which we and our partners can best enforce the full measure of the UN mandate. Our mission right now is to shape the battle space in such a way that our partners may take the lead in execution," he said adding Admiral Sam Locklear was leading the operations from the USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean Sea.
The targets damaged by the coalition include radars, early warning systems, land-air missile bases, and Russian-made zenit rockets S-200 near Tripoli.
Operation Odyssey Dawn is controlled by the US Africa Command, with its commander Gen. Carter Ham being in charge.
Gortney said that US air planes were not used in the strikes; the air strikes were carried out by the other participants in the operation.
The Libyan state television aired reports that civilian objects were also hit, including a hospital near Tripoli. In a radio and TV statement Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi declared the air and missile strikes to be a colonial aggression, and North Africa and the Mediterranean to be a war zone, vowing to arm the entire Libyan nation.
Earlier on Saturday, Gadhafi wrote a letter to President Obama and other world leaders saying they would regret what he called "intervention in the internal affairs of Libya."
According to the Libyan state TV, at least 48 people were killed and 150 were wounded in the strikes on Saturday.
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