Allied warplanes go into action to stop Libya bloodshed

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says planes are preventing air attacks on city of Benghazi
Allied warplanes go into action to stop Libya bloodshed
French President Nicolas Sarkozy. (Getty Images)
By Reuters
Sat 19 Mar 2011 03:36 PM

French President Nicolas

Sarkozy said Western air forces, with Arab League approval, had

gone into action on Saturday over Libya and were preventing

Muammar Gaddafi's forces attacking the rebel city of Benghazi.

"As of now, our planes are preventing air attacks on the

city of Benghazi," he said adding that military action supported

by France, Britain, the United States and Canada and backed by

Arab nations could be halted if Gaddafi stopped his forces

attacking. French planes were also ready to strike Libyan tanks.

"It's a grave decision we've had to take," Sarkozy said

after meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron, US

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other leaders in Paris.

"Along with our Arab, European and North American partners,

France has decided to play its part before history."

Sarkozy said of the meeting: "Those taking part agreed to

put in place all necessary means, especially military, to

enforce the decisions of the United Nations Security Council.

"This is why, in agreement with our partners, our air forces

will counter any aggression by Colonel Gaddafi's aircraft

against the population of Benghazi," he said.

"As of now, other French aircraft are ready to intervene

against armoured vehicles which threaten unarmed civilians."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who opposes military

action, was also present and said afterwards that Berlin also

agreed that violence in Libya must end.

Sarkozy, briefing reporters but taking no questions, said:

"Colonel Gaddafi has scorned our warnings. In the past few hours

his forces have intensified their murderous offensive."

"The Libyan people need our aid and support. It's our duty,"

Sarkozy said.

"In Libya, a peaceful civilian population that is seeking

only to be able to choose its own destiny has found itself in

mortal danger. It's our duty to respond to their appeal," he

said.

"Today we are intervening in Libya under the U.N. mandate

with our partners and notably our Arab partners. We are doing it

to protect the civilian population from the murderous madness of

a regime that in killing its own people has lost all legitimacy.

"There is still time for Colonel Gaddafi to avoid the worst,

by acting without delay and without reservations in accordance

with all the demands of the international community. The door of

international diplomacy will open again the moment attacks end."

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