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UN threat works, Gaddafi blinks
Truce ordered after UNSC authorises military action against Libyan regime

US Ultimatum

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Friday asked Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to immediately shun attacking civilians, stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi and pull them back from other cities, warning that a UN resolution will be enforced through "military action". “Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable,” he said. — PTI

Tripoli, March 18
Libya said on Friday it would halt all military operations to protect its civilians and comply with a UN resolution, backtracking from a threat to root out rebels after Western powers warned of punitive action.

The United Nations authorised a no-fly zone and attacks on forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, who had hours earlier vowed to crush Libya’s revolt with “no mercy, no pity”. “We decided on an immediate ceasefire and on an immediate stop to all military operations,” Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa told reporters in Tripoli. Koussa said Libya was ready to open dialogue with all parties, without specifying who.

“(Libya) takes great interest in protecting civilians,” Koussa said, after Gaddafi's forces used warplanes, tanks and gunboats to retake territory rebels had controlled in the east and pummelled towns that rebelled in the west with heavy arms. Koussa also said Libya was committed “to offer humanitarian aid (to Libyans) and to respecting all human rights and abiding by international and humanitarian laws.” Libya was “obliged to protect all foreigners and all of their assets,” he said, adding that Libya was acting in line with the UN Security Council resolution.

France, a leading advocate of military action, said it was cautious about the ceasefire announcement and that the “threat on the ground has not changed”. Western officials said military action could include France, Britain, the United States and one or more Arab countries.

The UN Security Council, meeting in emergency session, passed a resolution endorsing a no-fly zone. It also authorised “all necessary measures” - code for military attack - to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s forces. The resolution was co-sponsored by France, Britain, Lebanon and the United States. After the resolution was passed, Britain said it will deploy ‘Tornadoes’ and ‘Typhoons’ as well as air-to-air refuelling and surveillance aircraft to assist the UN forces.

Earlier, people in Misrata said the rebel-held western city was under heavy bombardment by Gaddafi’s forces on Friday. — Reuters





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