Air crew prepare a French combat plane before it flies to L .
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ho New)
- Muammar Gaddafi's air defenses have been 'severely disabled' by a
barrage of US-led missile strikes launched on Saturday, a US national
security official said.
"Qaddafi's air defense systems have been
severely disabled. It's too soon to predict what he and his ground
forces may do in response to today's strikes," the source said on
condition of anonymity.
Gaddafi defies West, continues attacks ahead of summit
Fighter jet shot down over Benghazi in Libya
Libyan state TV reported Sunday that the airstrikes on several Libyan cities had killed 48 people and wounded 150 in "civilian areas." The statement by the Libyan armed forces said the capital Tripoli as well as the cities of Sirte, Benghazi, Misrata and Zuwarah were hit.
US and British ships and submarines fired more than 110 Tomahawk cruise
missiles at Libyan targets to take out their air defenses, a senior US
military official said on Saturday.
The US also launched cruise missiles from a warship against Libyan targets, as part of a UN-mandated intervention in Libya.
Admiral Bill Gortney, director of the US military's Joint Staff, said
no US aircraft were flying over Libya at this time and no US forces were
on the ground.
Earlier, Libyan state television reported the
"crusader enemy", a reference to Western forces, bombarded civilian
areas of Tripoli, fuel storage tanks that supplied the city of Misrata
in west Libya, Muammar Gaddafi's hometown Sirte and the rebel
stronghold of Benghazi.
The report said a hospital in the suburbs of Tripoli had been hit.
French air force jets also destroyed some tanks and armored vehicles, a French defense ministry official said on Saturday.
we have destroyed a number of tanks and armored vehicles," the official
said, adding that he could not immediately confirm the number.
Al Jazeera television reported that four Libyan tanks had been destroyed to the south west of the Libyan city of Benghazi.
The first shot was
fired by a French aircraft and destroyed a military vehicle at around
1645 GMT, French defense ministry and army officials said.
"A first target was engaged and destroyed," ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire told reporters.
armed forces spokesman told the same briefing that the operation to
halt Muammar Gaddafi's advance on rebel forces involved around 20 planes
and an area 100 km by 150 km (60 by 100 miles) around the eastern rebel
stronghold of Benghazi.
France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft
carrier will leave France for Libya on Sunday, the spokesman added. A
central command center for the operation was still being set up.
Earlier Saturday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced
that Western air forces, with Arab League approval, had gone into
action over Libya and were preventing Gaddafi's forces from attacking
"As of now, our planes are preventing air attacks on the city of
Benghazi," he said adding that military action supported by France,
Britain, the United States and Canada and backed by Arab nations could
be halted if Gaddafi stopped his forces attacking.