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Western Countries Launch Airstrikes Against Gadhafi
March 20, 2011

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The death toll is mounting in Libya, as Western countries launch airstrikes against air defenses and other positions of forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

The result of a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone and the use of "necessary" force, the airstrikes came from ships and planes owned by the U.S., the U.K., and France and targeted radar systems and missile sites. The airstrikes also targeted the positions of ground forces, but the governments of those three countries continued to insist that they would send no ground troops of their own into the war zone. The Libyan government said in response to the U.N. resolution that it had ordered a cease-fire, but rebel forces reported that fighting had continued unabated.

Gadhafi's forces, after a monthlong rebellion, have retaken several key towns claimed by rebel forces and were poised to strike at the heart of Benghazi, in the east, the country's second-largest city and home to the heart of the resistance. Gadhafi's forces outnumber the rebels in both manpower and munitions.

The no-fly zone, which was supported by the Arab League, was the result of frustration over allegations that Gadhafi was killing unarmed civilians. Claims from the Libyan government that the Western airstrikes killed unarmed civilians prompted expressions of dismay from Arab League spokespeople.
The situation is not so much a division between Gadhafi's forces controlling the west and rebel forces controlling the east. Misrata, a key city in the western part of the country, was claimed by rebel forces weeks ago and is still the target of furious assault by Gadhafi loyalists. Hundreds of people have been killed in the monthlong uprising, which began as a peaceful protest to the reign of Gadhafi, who came to power in a coup in 1979.

The announcement of the U.N. resolution on Libya prompted calls from opposition leaders in Bahrain for help in their struggle in what has become a violent crackdown by the Sunni-led Bahraini dynastic government against a large Shiite population. Those protests began as a plea for a constitutional monarchy and were greeted at first by a promise for dialogue but then later by violence, as the protesters themselves became more violent in their opposition.

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