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 Opposition: Violence rages despite Libyan claim of cease-fire

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PostSubject: Opposition: Violence rages despite Libyan claim of cease-fire   Fri Mar 18, 2011 8:40 pm

(CNN) -- Deadly conflict is raging in Libya, witnesses say,
despite the government announcement of an "immediate" cease-fire after a
U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to
protect civilians. At least 28 people died and hundreds were
wounded as fighting raged in the Libyan cities of Mistrata, Ajdabiya and
Zintan on Friday, according to Khaled el-Sayeh, military spokesman for
the opposition. U.S. President Barack Obama warned Gadhafi to
adhere to the cease-fire and pull back from several besieged cities. But
Obama insisted that American troops will not be deployed in Libya. Witnesses
in the western city of Misrata said a pro-government assault is
persisting and casualties are mounting as countries backing the
council's move, such as Britain and France, get their military resources
into place to enforce the measure. "What cease-fire?" asked a
doctor in Misrata, who described hours of military poundings, casualties
and dwindling resources to treat the wounded. "We're under the bombs.

Libya declares immediate cease-fire

Libya reacts to no-fly zone

Libyan rebels celebrate vote

Breaking down a no-fly zone over Libya

Libyan amb. still hopeful for airstrikes

"This morning, they are burning the city," the doctor said. "There are deaths everywhere." "Misrata
is on fire," according to an opposition member, who said tanks and
vehicles with heavy artillery shot their way into the city Thursday
night and the assault continued Friday. He said leader Moammar Gadhafi's
regime announced a cease-fire to buy time for itself. "Please help us." Outside
Ajdabiya in eastern Libya, CNN's Arwa Damon said she heard explosions,
listened to fighters' accounts of heavy casualties and saw ambulances.
She said fighters, who don't trust Gadhafi, believe that the declaration
is a trick. "Everybody around us is on very high alert, still expecting the worst," Damon said. El-Sayeh
said 26 people died in Mistrata, 83 were seriously wounded and hundreds
were slightly wounded. In Ajdabiya, two died, three were seriously
wounded and hundreds were slightly wounded. There was no immediate
casualty count for Zintan, el-Sayeh said. CNN couldn't
independently confirm the witness accounts, and it is impossible to tell
whether word of the cease-fire declaration trickled down to
pro-government forces. The announcement, which came hours after the U.N.
Security Council authorized the use of force to protect besieged
civilians, drew quick skepticism from France and the United States,
among others. In remarks televised around the globe, Libyan
Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said in Tripoli that the country decided
on "an immediate cease-fire and the stoppage of all military
operations." He noted that the country, since it is a member of the
United Nations, is "obliged to accept the Security Council resolution
that permits the use of force to protect the civilian population." Obama
said Friday that "left unchecked, we have every reason to believe
Gadhafi (will) commit atrocities against his own people" and the
surrounding region could be destabilized. Power and water must be restored to several cities, he added. "These
terms are not negotiable," Obama said. If Gadhafi doesn't comply, the
U.N. resolution will be imposed through military action, the president
said. It was not immediately clear how the announced cease-fire
and word of continued fighting will affect plans of some countries to
intervene militarily in Libya; authorities in Britain and France had
talked before Koussa's remarks. Koussa said that Libya plans to
protect civilians and provide them with humanitarian assistance and that
it is obliged to protect all foreigners and their assets. He also
called for a fact-finding mission to sort out the events on the ground. He
said the Libya government was disappointed in the imposition of a
no-fly zone, arguing that it will hurt the civilian population. He also
said the use of military power would violate the country's sovereignty
and go against the U.N. charter, but he acknowledged that some countries
may yet intervene. "There are signs this indeed might take place," Koussa said. Bernard
Valero, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the cease-fire
announcement "does not change the threat on the ground."

Frustration and anger in Benghazi

Libyan rebel: We've seen heavy gunfire

No-fly zone a slippery slope to more?

Libya 'welcomes' U.N. resolution


  • Libya

  • United Nations Security Council

  • Middle East Conflict

"Gadhafi is privy to folkloric declarations, and we must remain extremely vigilant with regards to these declarations," he said. U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called the situation "fluid and
dynamic," said the United States wants actions, not words. "We will
continue to work with our partners in the international community to
press Gadhafi to leave and to support the legitimate aspirations of the
Libyan people," she said. The Libyan government "must immediately
cease all hostilities against the civilian population," U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday in Madrid. Earlier Friday, talk emerged in Europe of speedy military action against Gadhafi's regime. In
an interview with RTL radio, French government spokesman Francois
Baroin said France plans to participate in "swift" efforts. President
Nicolas Sarkozy will convene a summit Saturday to look at the crisis.
Invited are members of the Arab League, the president of the European
Council and representatives of states that support the implementation of
the U.N. resolution. British Prime Minister David Cameron said
the United Kingdom has started preparations to deploy aircraft, and "in
the coming hours" they will move to air bases where they will be
positioned for any "necessary action." Spain will offer NATO the
use of two military bases and provide air and naval forces for use in
operations involving Libya, Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chacon said
Friday in Madrid, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. The two
bases to be offered in southern Spain are the Rota air and naval
station, where a contingent of U.S. troops is also based, and the air
base at Moron de la Frontera. Those, as well as the offer to provide air
and naval assets, would be subject to parliamentary approval, the
minister said at an event at a Spanish air base in Madrid, the spokesman
said. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said it is
closing the Italian Embassy in Tripoli and will actively participate in
the effort. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada is
sending CF-18 fighter jets to join a Canadian warship on standby off
the coast of Libya. The Pentagon, meanwhile, announced Friday
that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will travel to Russia this weekend
as the United States and other nations deliberate action against Libya. "There
is no consideration being given to delaying this trip," spokesman Geoff
Morrell said at the Pentagon. He said Gates maintains constant
communications links with Washington wherever he goes and can "carry out
his responsibilities no matter where he is in the world." Asked
whether the cease-fire declaration complicates a U.N.-sanctioned
intervention, Michael Rubin, a Middle East expert at the American
Enterprise Institute, said, "It is going to make it tougher without a
doubt." "One should credit Obama for getting the international
community behind him, but it came at the price of momentum. The Libyans
understand European weakness and know how to play off of it," Rubin
said. Rubin said migration concerns come into play, with Europeans worried that more violence will generate more refugees. "They look at change in North Africa almost exclusively through the lens of migration," he said. The
council voted 10-0 with five abstentions Thursday night to authorize
"states to take all necessary measures to protect civilians." It also
imposed a no-fly zone, banning all flights in Libyan airspace, with
exceptions that involve humanitarian aid and evacuation of foreign
nationals. The United States and its NATO partners have several
contingencies in place to act quickly, according to an administration
official familiar with planning. They include airstrikes and cruise
missile attacks designed to cripple Libyan air defenses and punish the
military units that are leading Gadhafi's push on opposition strongholds
in the east, the official said. Obama will insist on a major Arab role in any no-fly zone, the official said. All commercial air traffic has been shut down in Libya, an official at Eurocontrol said Friday. The
opposition, with devoted but largely untrained and under-equipped
units, has suffered military setbacks this week. But their hopes were
buoyed by the U.N. vote, particularly in rebel-held Benghazi, where an
assault by pro-Gadhafi forces has been expected. The resolution
singles out the city. It says U.N. member states can "take all necessary
measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under
threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi,
while excluding a foreign occupation force. "The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya"
is a formal name for the nation.
The U.N. resolution details enforcement of an arms embargo against Libya, the freezing of assets and a ban on most flights.
Richard Roth, Arwa Damon, Nic Robertson, Tommy Evans, Elise Labott, Al
Goodman, John King, Alan Silverleib, Raja Razek, Jennifer Rizzo, Joe
Vaccarello, Yousuf Basil and Reza Sayah, and journalist Mohamed Fadel
Fahmy contributed to this report.
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