25 Mar 2011

NATO to take charge of enforcing Libyan no-fly zone

3:28 pm on 25 March 2011

NATO has agreed to take over the responsibility of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya after many days of disagreement and confusion.

Western forces began bombarding Libya last Saturday to enforce a United Nations Security Council resolution last week that set up the no-fly zone and authorised the use of "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that for now, the mandate of the alliance would not extend beyond that.

A separate operation led by the United States, Britain and France would be responsible for protecting civilians against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

The agreement was announced on Thursday after four days of negotiations, the BBC reports.

A senior US military officer says more than 350 aircraft are now taking part in coalition operations against Libya.

Vice Admiral William Gortney, the director of the Joint Staff, says just over half of them are American and the coalition is growing in size and capability every day.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says there are no signs that Colonel Gaddafi is complying with the Security Council's demands for an immediate ceasefire.

Mr Ban says his special envoy to Libya has personally warned the government that the council may take additional measures if Libya does not comply.