April 4, 2011
The United States has agreed to a NATO’s request for a 48-hour extension of American participation in the Western coalition’s airstrikes on Libya.
Air Force AC-130 gunships, A-10 Thunderbolts and Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers will continue to attack troops loyal to embattled Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi and other sites through Monday evening, the Associated Press reported on Sunday.
The US is shifting the combat role to Britain, France and other allies; however, American air power is still in demand.
After Saturday, no US aircraft were to conduct airstrikes in Libya unless NATO officials would request it and Washington authorities would give their green light.
NATO will take the lead after the US participation on Monday strikes. The 28-member coalition assumed control of the mission in crisis-hit Libya from the US-led international forces last week.
As authorized by UN resolution, NATO will decide on all aspects of the operation in Libya, including an arms embargo, enforcing a no-fly zone, and protecting civilians from Gaddafi’s forces.
The US military had planned to begin withdrawing its combat jets and Tomahawk missiles from the air campaign against Libya this weekend.
The Pentagon says the raids are part of efforts to protect civilians from regime forces. This is while, an alarming number of civilians have reportedly been killed in the US-led airstrikes in Libya.
US, British, French, Canadian, Danish and Belgian warplanes have launched several strikes on Libya since March 19 under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 that authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says some 351,600 people have so far fled the crisis-hit Libya for fear of violence, and that around 1,500 to 2,000 are making their way to Egypt each day.
Meanwhile, fierce fighting continues between revolutionaries and regime forces on the outskirts of Brega.
Opposition forces have withdrawn from the key oil town after an ambush by government troops on Sunday.
This article was posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 at 4:50 am