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March 17th, 2011
07:49 PM ET

U.N. Security Council approves no-fly zone in Libya

Richard Roth
CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent

United Nations (CNN) - Told the time to act was diminishing by the hour, the U.N. Security Council voted Thursday evening to impose a no-fly zone and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi closed in on the rebel stronghold.

Opposition leaders, who have suffered military setbacks this week, said such measures were necessary for them to have any chance of thwarting Gadhafi's imminent assault on Benghazi.

"We're hoping and praying that the United Nations will come up with a very firm and very fast resolution and they will enforce it immediately," said Ahmed El-Gallal, a senior opposition coordinator, before the vote.

"We should not arrive too late," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said at the U.N.

The resolution was approved with 10 votes, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom.

There were no opposing votes on the 15-member council, but China, Russia, Germany, India and Brazil abstained. Germany said it was concerned about a protracted military conflict.

U.N. member states can "take all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force," according to the resolution.

It was not immediately clear just how the international military operation and bombing runs would unfold. The no-fly zone prohibits Libya's air forces from entering certain zones within the country.

"The United States stands with the Libyan people in support of their universal rights," said U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice.

Gadhafi's son, Saadi, told CNN Thursday evening that troops will change their tactics and take up positions around Benghazi Saturday or Sunday and assist people fleeing from the city.

The younger Gadhafi said there will be no large-scale assault. Instead police and anti-terrorism units will be sent into the rebel stronghold to disarm the opposition. Unspecified humanitarian groups can help with the exodus of civilians from Benghazi, Saadi Gadhafi said.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Ahmed Yassin NC,US

    Thanks for those who voted yes no fly zone in libya!! we know it was too long to decide but it is welcome and thanks again !!

    March 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  2. Mike Coffey

    Suggestion on how the people in Tripoli can indicate their vote for or against Gadhafi.

    After the no fly zone, drop flags (or material to make flags) large enough to be photographed from the air and have a time when these flags would be placed on the roofs of houses. At the appointed time photograph Tripoli from the air. Include a letter from the interim government in the East.

    The US resolution could be used to protect the freedom of people to express their vote on their roof and peacefully in other ways.
    – Pass it around.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  3. Johnny Lim

    One up for the opposition but has anyone wondered if the opposition is popular with the other cities including Tripoli ?

    March 17, 2011 at 8:16 pm |