WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011 – By the fifth day of coalition task force operations supporting a no-fly zone in Libya and protecting Libyan civilians, the 13-nation alliance had flown more than 300 sorties in the North African country, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
By 3 p.m. EDT yesterday, the United States had flown 212 sorties, other coalition sorties totaled 124, and Tomahawk missile launches numbered 162, officials said.
Officials said the 336 sorties included 108 strike sorties, meaning they encountered opposition from Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.
The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973 on March 17, demanding an end to violence against Libyan citizens and authorizing enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya.
Task Force Odyssey Dawn, including forces from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada and Arab states, immediately shifted from humanitarian and refugee evacuation missions under way since March 4 to military air operations enforcing the resolution.
Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, task force commander, said yesterday the strikes are intended to open the door for international and nongovernmental organization humanitarian assistance efforts.
Locklear said the coalition’s top priority is protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.
With the no-fly zone established and „robust,“ the admiral said, „we are looking at the battle space as it changes, looking at the disposition of … Gadhafi’s forces that are not complying with the U.N. Security Council resolution, and we are able to produce more of an effect.“
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
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