UK: Strikes neutralize Libyan air defenses
LONDON -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that coalition forces have neutralized Libyan air defenses and helped avert a bloodbath in the North African country.
The prime minister told British lawmakers that Moammar Gadhafi had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution by moving troops toward rebel-held cities and also had lied to the international community.
"Gadhafi responded to the U.N. resolution by declaring a cease-fire, but straightaway it was clear he was breaking that promise," Cameron told lawmakers.
Cameron stressed that through airstrikes, coalition forces helped avert what could have been "a bloody massacre in Benghazi."
The aims behind coalition airstrikes -- which Cameron called "necessary, legal and right" -- were to suppress Libyan air defenses to enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone and to protect civilians.
"Good progress has been made on both fronts," Cameron said, stressing that all action was taken with the support -- and even invitation -- of Arab nations. He went on to say that he sought to build the "widest possible coalition" for action in Libya.
Echoing the head of Britain's armed forces, Cameron declined to specify if Gadhafi is himself a potential target of the airstrikes -- saying he would not go further than addressing that targets are chosen to help avert attacks on civilians and to implement the no-fly zone.
"Many people will ask questions I'm sure today about regime change and Gadhafi," the prime minister said. "I've been clear; I think Libya needs to get rid of Gadhafi. But in the end we are responsible for trying to enforce this Security Council resolution. The Libyans must choose their own future."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)