Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NATO agrees to take full control of operations in Libya

NATO agreed on Sunday to take complete control of military operations in Libya, said a diplomat and a UN official. "NATO has decided today (Sunday) to implement all aspects of UN resolution 1973 to protect civilians and civilian areas under threat of attacks by the regime (Moammar) Gadhafi," the NATO official after a meeting of the alliance to 28 members.

A diplomat from a NATO member state said the decision means that the agency now taken full control of all aspects of the operation, ending nearly a week of tough negotiations on the chain of command. "Everything is now under NATO," said the diplomat. Washington was anxious to hand over responsibility for air attacks on the alliance, whose staff has already developed the necessary operational plans.

Air strikes are intended to protect civilians from Gadhafi's forces, but also tipped the scales in favor of the not so well-armed rebels, though both sides are balanced in key cities. The UN authorized the operation to protect civilians after Gadhafi Libyan launched attacks on protesters demanding his resignation after 42 years in power.

NATO expects to begin implementing the no-fly zone on Sunday or Monday, and also coordinate naval patrols in the Mediterranean to enforce an arms embargo ordered by the UN. With information from Reuters and AP

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