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Crisis in Libya: Latest developments

Libyan rebels celebrate on a captured tank in the outskirts of Benghazi, eastern Libya, Sunday, March 20, 2011. The U.S. military said 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from American and British ships and submarines at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya's air force.
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus
Libyan people celebrate on a tank belonging to the forces of Muammar Qaddafi in the outskirts of Benghazi, eastern Libya, Sunday, March 20, 2011. The tanks were destroyed earlier by NATO plans.
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

7:59 p.m. ET:

(Reuters) Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Sunday that for the second time a Trafalgar Class submarine has fired guided Tomahawk missiles at Libyan air defence systems.

5:39 p.m. ET:

(Reuters) While traveling to Moscow Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said President Barack Obama's advisers were unanimously supportive of his decision on the use of military force in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.


5:34 p.m. ET:

(Reuters) Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, director of the U.S. military's Joint Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon that Muammar Qaddafi was not being targeted by coalition air strikes. Gortney also said Belgium and Qatar have joined the coalition acting against Qaddafi, which includes the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.


5:19 p.m. ET:

(Al Jazeera) A spokesman for Libya's rebel movement reports that more than 8,000 Libyans who have risen up against Muammar Qaddafi and his forces have been killed in the revolt.


4:22 p.m. ET:

(Al Arabiya) Massive explosions were reported in Tripoli. Al Arabiya reports smoke rising from Qadaffi's headquarters in Bab al-Azizia.


3:40 p.m. ET:

(AP) - Anti-aircraft fire erupted in the Libyan capital Sunday, marking the start of a second night of international strikes as a defiant Muammar Qaddafi vowed a "long war."

Soon after nightfall, heavy anti-aircraft fire rattled over Tripoli, with tracer fire arching into the sky, punctuated by the explosion of shells. The fire suggested a second night of strikes had begun, but it was not immediately known what they targeted.

On state TV, the Libyan armed forces repeated its claim that it ordered a cease-fire - though it appeared that its units continued fighting after a similar cease-fire call the night before.


3:10 p.m. ET:

Representatives of the Libyan government and armed forces announced an immediate cease-fire, following attacks on its air defenses by an international coalition seeking to enforce a no-fly zone over the country.

In Tripoli a spokesman for the armed forces read a statement declaring, in accordance with U.N. Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and with statements from the high level Committee of Five and African Union, that all military units are to honor an immediate ceasefire starting at 9 p.m. this evening.

A representative of the Popular Social Leadership of Libya also called on people "from all Libyan tribes" to join in a peaceful march from Tripoli to Benghazi, "to express our solidarity and offer our condolances to the people there," and to jointly discuss "the affairs of our homeland and the future of our nation."


2:14 p.m. ET

During remarks in Brazil on Sunday, President Obama briefly addressed the unfolding crisis in Libya - emphasizing the universal right "to be free and to be heard" and the "power and promise of Democracy."

"We all seek to be free. We all seek to be heard," he said. "These are not American or Brazilian ideas. They are not Western ideas. These are universal rights, and we must support them everywhere."

"Today, we are seeing the struggle for these rights unfold across the Middle East and North Africa," Mr. Obama continued. "We have seen a revolution born out of a yearning for basic human dignity in Tunisia. We have seen peaceful protesters pour into Tahrir Square - men and women, young and old, Christian and Muslim. We've seen the people of Libya take a courageous stand against a regime determined to brutalize its own citizens. Across the region, we have seen young people rise up - a new generation demanding the right to determine their own future."


1:47 p.m. ET

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Sunday the Obama administration waited too long to take action against Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

Complete coverage: Anger in the Arab World
(WATCH) Allies provide support for Libya rebels

"He waited too long, there is no doubt in my mind about it," McCain said of Mr. Obama, in an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union." "But now, it is what it is. And we need, now, to support him and the efforts that our military are going to make. And I regret that it didn't - we didn't act much more quickly, and we could have."

Libyan rebels celebrate on a captured tank in the outskirts of Benghazi, eastern Libya, Sunday, March 20, 2011.
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus
He also argued that, had the Obama administration acted earlier, a no-fly zone might have been enough to stabilize the situation in Libya. 

"If we had taken these -- this step a couple of weeks ago, a no-fly zone would probably have been enough," he said. "Now, a no-fly zone is not enough. There needs to be other efforts made."

Regardless, McCain argued, "time is not on Qaddafi's side.'

"If he doesn't succeed in a relatively short period of time, he'll be driven back and, over time, I believe, defeated," McCain said. "I have great confidence in our capabilities that the most mightiest nation in the world is now matched up against a third-rate or fourth-rate power."

1:20 p.m. ET

Forces loyal to Libya's Muammar Qaddafi seized an Italian ferry in the port of Tripoli on Saturday night and are detaining the ferry's crew, the Wall Street Journal is reporting

Quoting both a senior Italian official and the ship's owner, the Journal reports the detention of ten crew members. Of those detained, eight are reportedly Italians, while two are Indians and one is Ukrainian. 

"Unfortunately the Asso 22 has been caught up in this situation," said Mario Mattioli, chief executive of the shipping company that owns the vessel, in an interview with the Journal.

An F-16 jet fighter flies over the NATO airbase in Aviano, Italy, Sunday, March 20, 2011. NATO's top decision-making body is poised to decide whether the alliance will join in the coalition onslaught on Libya.
AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Sunday that "we don't know the intentions" of the forces who detained the ferry, but added that "we cannot exclude (the possibility) they've been taken hostage."

U.S. fires cruise missiles on Libyan air defenses
Qaddafi defies U.N., attacks rebel forces

According to the Journal, the ferry is used to transport employees between Tripoli and an Italian-operated oil rig nearby. The employees had reportedly disembarked from the ship before it was seized on Saturday.

1:08 p.m. ET

French Defense Ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire told reporters in Paris that Qatar will join the operation against Qaddafi's forces, adding its warplanes alongside French jets. He said the Qatari contribution will come "in the hours to come."

12:48 p.m. ET

Libya's government has begun distributing weapons to Libyan civilians, Reuters is reporting.

After an international coalition hit Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's forces and air defenses with cruise missiles and airstrikes on Saturday, Qaddafi vowed to defend Libya from what he described as a "crusader aggression." According to Xinhua News Agency, he declared on Sunday that arms would be made available to all Libyans.

He also said Libya's oil would not be left to countries like the United States, France, and Britain, according to Xinhua.

According to Reuters,  the Libyan government "expected the operation to end in the next hours to arm more than a million men and women."

Reuters also reports that in an audio message broadcast on Saturday, Qaddafi said that as a result of the attacks, "It is now necessary to open the stores and arm all the masses with all types of weapons to defend the independence, unity and honor of Libya."   

He also urged Arab, Islamic, African, Latin American and Asian countries to "stand by the heroic Libyan people to confront this aggression, which will only increase the Libyan people's strength, firmness and unity," according to Reuters.

Protesters hold up placards and pictures of Libya's leader Muammar Qaddafi during a rally against the bombing of Libya, in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, March 20, 2011.
AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
10:22 a.m. ET

Despite the Arab League's support for a no-fly zone last week, the head of the Arab League is now criticizing the recent international strikes, the Associated Press reports.

Arguing that the strikes have caused civilian deaths, Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, said on Sunday that "what happened differs from the no-fly zone objectives."

"What we want is civilians' protection, not shelling more civilians," he said, arguing that the actions taken went beyond the actions the Arab League originally backed. The U.N. resolution that passed on March 17 authorized a no-fly zone and the use of "all necessary measures... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force."

Libya is saying that the strikes, which according to the AP targeted mostly air defenses, killed 48 people -- including civilians.

9:51 a.m. ET

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the Angelus prayer at the Vatican, Sunday, March 20, 2011.
AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca
Pope Benedict XVI said on Sunday he was praying for peace in Libya, and urged military and political leaders to consider the safety of Libyan civilians, the Associated Press reports.

Speaking after his weekly Angelus prayer in Rome, the Pope urged "those who have the political and military responsibility to take to heart the safety and security of citizens and guarantee that they have access to humanitarian aid."

"I am following the events with great concern," he continued, sources report. "I pray for those who are caught in the dramatic situation of this country."



9:33 a.m. ET

The U.S. and its allied partners have launched an attack against Libya: Operation Odyssey Dawn is said to be the beginning of a multi-phase operation to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, and it includes missile launches and air strikes.

It's the first major international military operation since the Iraq war started eight years ago.

Scott Goldberg reports, at left.