By Chris Simkins
The U.S military said Sunday that the first airstrikes to enforce a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone over Libya have been effective. A top military officer in Washington told reporters that the United States and coalition forces would continue to target Libyan military positions, but not the residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Navy Vice Admiral William Gortney said the U.S.-led military operation to enforce the no-fly zone has been successful. At a Pentagon news briefing, he said the air campaign had significantly degraded Libya’s air defense capability.
Gortney said the allied coalition has also targeted government forces near the eastern city of Benghazi. ” If [Libyan government forces] are moving and advancing onto the opposition forces in Libya, yes we will take them under attack,” he said.
Gortney said the military action is aimed at protecting Libyan civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, who are trying to put down a month-long uprising against the Libyan leader’s 42-year rule.
Admiral Gortney told reporters that coalition forces would not target Mr. Gadhafi’s home in Tripoli. But Western warplanes did bomb the outskirts of the Libyan capital on Sunday, drawing anti-aircraft fire from government forces.
The Pentagon says the no-fly zone covers a third of Libya and will be patrolled 24 hours a day. Despite reports that Mr. Gadhafi has called for an immediate cease-fire, U.S. military officials say their operations will continue. Several other nations, including Britain, France Canada Italy, Belgium, Denmark and Qatar are expected to take part in military missions to enforce the no-fly zone.