WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put the best face possible on NATO's decision on Thursday to take over enforcing the Libya no-fly zone but its failure to take full responsibility for protecting civilians.
Speaking after the compromise decision reached by the 28 members of the Western security alliance, Clinton said military planners had been authorized to take on the "broader civilian protection mission" and NATO was well suited to do so.
NATO countries agreed to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya to protect civilians against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces, but fell short of taking full command of all military operations in the oil-exporting North African state.
Speaking at the State Department, Clinton said Gaddafi's forces had been pushed back, a humanitarian disaster had been averted in Benghazi, the rebels' stronghold, and that Gaddafi's air force and air defenses were now largely ineffective.
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