Saturday, March 19, 2011
Brits fly from AF Marham to pound Libya
RAF jets join international action
(UKPA) – 1 hour ago
At least three RAF Tornado jets set off from the UK on Saturday night to take part in the operation to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya as the international community swung into action against Muammar Gaddafi.
The flights took off from RAF Marham in Norfolk shortly after a barrage of 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles - some of them British - was fired at Libya to knock out the dictator's air defence systems at more than 20 coastal locations.
A Royal Navy Trafalgar-class submarine stationed in the Mediterranean took part in the co-ordinated assault, which also involved forces from the US, France, Italy and Canada under the operational control of US Africa Command.
The missiles targeted radar systems and ground-to-air missile sites around the cities of Tripoli and Misrata in what was described as "the first phase of a multi-phase operation", clearing the way for allied planes to take control of the skies.
The onslaught on Gaddafi came after an emergency summit in Paris agreed military action to enforce United Nations resolution 1973, which authorised "any necessary measures" short of foreign occupation to defend Libyan civilians.
Around 20 French Mirage and Rafale fighter jets were immediately sent into action over the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, firing the first shots of the operation to destroy a number of Gaddafi's tanks and armoured vehicles.
Benghazi had come under fierce attack during the day, despite a supposed ceasefire, raising fears that Gaddafi would take advantage of delays in the international response to smash the opposition and commit atrocities against those who rose up against his 42-year rule a month ago.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced that British forces had gone into action in a brief statement outside 10 Downing Street following a meeting of senior ministers and military top brass in the Government's Cobra emergency committee.
As he initiated his first military campaign as PM, Mr Cameron described the operation as "necessary, legal and right". His thoughts were with British service personnel who were risking their lives to save others, he said.
President Barack Obama, making a visit to Brazil, said the US would contribute its "unique capabilities" to enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone which will be led by its international partners. Repeating his pledge that no US ground troops will be sent to Libya, Mr Obama said the "limited" use of force was "not an outcome the US or any of our partners sought". But he added: "We can't stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy."
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:10 PM