NATO Envisions 90-Day No-Fly Zone Operation in Libya

World | March 25, 2011, Friday // 16:35|  views

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu (L) and Captain Geoffrey Booth of the NATO international military staff pictured during a press conference on the situation in Libya, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, 25 March 2011. Photo by EPA/BGNES

NATO will decide within days whether to take over the command of the entire military operation in Libya, thus allowing the USA to step back, according to NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

On Friday, France, Turkey, the US and the UK agreed that the alliance, which is currently in charge of the no-fly zone and the arms embargo, should assume the overall control over the campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, which includes air strikes, The Guardian reported.

The final NATO decision is expected to be made by March 29, when the foreign ministers from all those involved in the anti-Gaddafi campaign gather for a crucial conference in London.

A NATO official said that the no-fly zone mission will probably continue for more or less three months.

"Much of the planning assumptions were based on a three-month planning window, but should the [NATO commander] feel it's necessary to extend it, then he would simply have to say. I am anticipating it may be more or less," the official said.

According to a military briefer, the mission aimed at closing Libyan air space to all but authorized air flights. It bars flights by both Gaddafi and rebels.

"No-fly zones are impartial - there is no one authorized to fly in that area," said Captain Geoffrey Booth.

The United Arab Emirates announced Friday that it will send 12 aircraft in the coming days to help patrol and enforce the no-fly zone.

Turkey, which was initially reluctant of military operations, agreed to the use of an eastern air base in Izmir.

Qatar is also expected to begin flying planes this weekend. Jordan has agreed to provide humanitarian support.

On Friday, coalition warplanes continued to roar through the Libyan skies, bombing the periphery of the capital Tripoli where military bases are located.

Fresh fighting has also been reported in the strategic city of Misrata. However, it has been difficult to use coalition airpower in the city because Gaddafi's tanks were within Misrata itself.

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Tags: Gaddafi regime, Gaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi, Tripoli, misrata, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, turkey, no-fly zone, Libya, NATO, Operation Odyssey Dawn


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