By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Coalition forces are carrying out air strikes in Libya for a fourth day today, targeting air defenses and ground troops loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi as well as naval bases and airports.
U.S. officials say the focus of the operation is shifting to expand the UN-authorized no-fly zone. But political debate is growing on the international stage about how far UN authorization allows air strikes to go. There also are questions about who is leading the mission.
So far, the air strikes have stopped Qaddafi loyalists from advancing on opposition-controlled cities in the east — leaving a trail of charred military vehicles on the road between Ajdabiya and Benghazi.
The air strikes also have handed some momentum back to opposition fighters, who were on the verge of defeat just last week, though the Libyan government says civilians have been killed.
Meantime, U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States will transfer its leading role on Libya “within days” to ensure that the burden of enforcing a UN resolution against Qaddafi is shared.
Obama said U.S. involvement would be limited and its mission command would be brief.
Speaking in Chile, Obama said Washington’s official position is that Qaddafi must resign.
“It is U.S. policy that Qaddafi needs to go. And we’ve got a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy,” Obama said.