Friday, March 25, 2011
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NATO takes over no-fly zone
Top news: NATO has agreed to take over enforcement of the internationally mandated no-fly zone over Libya. Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that all 28 members, including initially reluctant Turkey, had agreed, but that talks would continue over the possibility of giving NATO "broader responsibility," likely referring to attacks against Libyan government ground troops. In a boost to the coalition's efforts to recruit Arab allies, the United Arab Emirates has agreed to commit 12 warplanes to the effort.
France declared the no-fly zone "under control" on Friday as planes continued to strike Qaddafi forces outside the strategic city of Ajdabiyah. Rebel spokesmen say they expected the government controlled city to fall on Friday or Saturday. Another air raid was reported near Tripoli before dawn today.
Nato officials say planning for for the operations is assuming a timetable of about 90 days. Representatives of the Qaddafi regime met with the African Union in Ethiopia on Friday for what the U.N. hopes will be the beginning of talks to resolve the crisis. The AU criticized Qaddafi, its former head on Friday, with Chairman Jean Ping calling the aspirations of the Libyan people "legitimate" and calling for transitional elections.