US: No-fly zone effectively in place over Libya

US military chief Mullen says allied forces' air strikes "took out" Libyan gov't air defenses.

March 20, 2011 13:53
1 minute read.
US Chairman of Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen

US Chairman of Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)


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WASHINGTON - The top US military officer said on Sunday that US and allied forces have effectively established a no-fly zone over Libya and halted an offensive by Muammar Gaddafi's forces on rebels in Benghazi.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" that air strikes that began Saturday "took out" Gaddafi's air defenses and hit Libyan air fields while Western forces established combat air patrols over the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

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"Operations yesterday went very well," Mullen said. "He (Gaddafi) hasn't had aircraft or helicopters flying the last couple days. So effectively that no-fly zone has been put in place."

But Mullen emphasized that the mission was narrowly focused on protecting civilians and aiding humanitarian efforts under a UN Security Council resolution, and not on ousting Gaddafi from power.

Mullen also said he has seen no reports of civilian casualties resulting from Western air strikes.

Libyan state television said 48 people had been killed and 150 wounded in the allied air strikes.

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