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Security Council OKs No-Fly Zone over Libya, World Rallies against Gaddafi

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[The North Africa Journal] The Security Council authorized on March 17, 2011 the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attack, specifically in the eastern city of Benghazi, which Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has reportedly said he will storm tonight to end a revolt against his regime.

Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force if needed, the Council adopted a resolution by 10 votes to zero, with five abstentions, including those of veto-wielding China and Russia, authorizing Member States “to take 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.”

The Security Council’s decision paves the way for an international action to block Gaddafi’s entry into Benghazi. British and French warplanes are said to be able to make initial air raids on Libyan positions as early as Friday, the BBC reports, citing senior U.N. sources. Arab allies might provide logistical support. Already NATO, French and British navy assets are nearing Libya while the Wall Street Journal reports that “Egypt is shipping weapons and ammunition to Libyan rebels. The shipments, mostly assault rifles and ammunition, are apparently the first known instances of an outside government arming the rebels, who have been losing ground to Muammar Gaddafi's forces.”

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