UN security Council 521.
(photo credit: Reuters)
NEW YORK – The United Nations Security Council voted Thursday to authorize military force against Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadhafi’s forces.
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“Today the Security Council has responded to the Libyan people's cry for help,” US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said. “This Council's purpose is clear: to protect innocent civilians.”
The resolution demands the "immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks, and abuses, of civilians." The resolution stipulates that member states, upon notification to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, can “take all necessary measures...to protect civilians and civilian populated areas, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."
The Security Council’s authorization of the use of force also includes
the enforcement of a no-fly zone to protect civilians, as well as an
enforcement of the arms embargo, banning all international flights by
Libyan owned or operated aircraft. The resolution also freezes the
assets of certain individuals and five entities including critical
state-owned Libyan companies. A newly established Libyan Sanctions
Committee is empowered by the resolution to impose
sanctions on those who violate the arms embargo, including by providing Gadhafi with mercenaries.
“The future of Libya should be decided by the people of Libya,” Rice
said in her remarks to the Security Council. “The United States stands
with the Libyan people in support of their universal rights.”
The resolution was backed strongly by France, the United Kingdom and
Lebanon. Ten countries voted in favor of the resolution. Russia, China,
Germany, India and Brazil abstained.
"Our resolution is aimed to protect Libyan civilians," Lebanon’s
ambassador to the UN Nawaf Salam said. "It will not result in the
occupation of even an inch of Libyan territory."
The BBC has reported that raids conducted by unmanned drones could take place as early as Friday.
United Kingdom Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall told the Security Council
that the situation in Libya, as Gadhafi pushes toward the rebel
stronghold of Benghazi, is now clear, and that “a violent, discredited
regime which has lost all legitimacy is using weapons of war against
“The international community has come together in deploring the actions
of the Gadhafi regime and demanding that the regime end this violence
against the Libyan people,” Lyall told the body. “The Libyan population
want the same rights and freedoms that people across the Middle East and
North Africa are demanding, and that are enshrined in the values of the
United Nations Charter. Today’s resolution puts the weight of the
Security Council squarely behind the Libyan people in defense of those
values."Gaddafi says will show 'no mercy, no pity' in Benghazi
The UN resolution came hours after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to storm the rebel bastion of Benghazi overnight, showing "no mercy, no pity"
Al Jazeera television showed thousands of Benghazi residents in a
central square celebrating the UN vote, waving anti-Gaddafi tricolor
flags and chanting defiance of the man who has ruled for four decades.
Fireworks burst over the city.
Gaddafi had warned that only those who lay down their arms would be spared vengeance to be exacted on 'rats and dogs'.
"It's over. The issue has been decided," Gaddafi said. "We are coming
tonight...We will find you in your closets. "We will have no mercy and
Residents said the Libyan air force unleashed three air raids on the
city of 670,000 on Thursday and there has been fierce fighting along the
Mediterranean coastal road as Gaddafi moves to crush the month-old
Rebel National Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil told Al Jazeera television air strikes were essential to stop Gaddafi.
"We stand on firm ground. We will not be intimidated by these lies and
claims... We will not settle for anything but liberation from this
Gaddafi's Defense Ministry warned of swift retaliation
, even beyond Libyan frontiers, if the UN voted for military action against the oil-exporting nation.
"Any foreign military act against Libya will expose all air and maritime
traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger and civilian and military
[facilities] will become targets of Libya's counter-attack," the
ministry said in a statement.Reuters contributed to this report.