US, allies discuss no-fly zone over Libya

Monday, February 28, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US was weighing options of declaring a no-fly zone over Libya in response to its growing unrest, media reports said.

US officials Sunday talked to European and NATO allies about the measure, which would aim to prevent airstrikes against the civilian uprising, The New York Times said.

A UN diplomat was quoted as saying that such a move would require backing from the UN Security Council, which was unlikely to approve it unless such an aerial attack happened first.

The administration of President Barack Obama has discussed the possibility of the US military disrupting communications between the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his armed forces.

US authorities have also considered the feasibility of establishing a safe corridor to evacuate people to neighbouring Tunisia or Egypt, the report said.

The UN, which imposed sanctions on Libya over the weekend, estimated about 100,000 people have fled the country since the start of the unrest, in which government forces have attacked protesters seeking Gaddafi’s ouster.

As the uprising in Libya has grown, Gaddafi’s control was reported to have shrunk to the capital, Tripoli, and his hometown, Sirte.

A transitional government set up by former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil Saturday was reported to be losing the support of many of the protesters.

Protesters in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city, have announced the formation of a Libyan National Council, saying Jalil’s government does not represent the people.

Gaddafi has given no indication that he was likely to surrender or flee the country.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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