By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Officials said today that NATO’s planning for the no-fly operation over Libya assumes it will last three months, as coalition air strikes on Muammar Qaddafi’s forces continued.
NATO command of the UN-mandated no-fly mission, approved by alliance members on March 24, is expected to start early next week. NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the alliance envisages a 90-day operation, but it could be longer or shorter than that.
Lungescu said that while the military command would remain strictly within NATO, an international conference in London on March 29 will set “the wide political guidance” for action against Libya.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said coalition forces fired 16 Tomahawk cruise missiles and flew 153 air sorties in the past 24 hours, targeting Muammar Qaddafi’s artillery, mechanized forces, and command and control infrastructure.
The French military said one of its fighter jets destroyed an artillery battery near the Qaddafi-controlled city of Ajdabiya in the east on the night of March 24.
Loud explosions were heard in parts of southern Tripoli today, but it wasn’t immediately clear what was happening.