Tuesday 22 March 2011

Libya: live

As the coalition assault on Col Gaddafi's regime continues, here is live coverage of events in Libya and across the rest of the Middle East.

EXCLUSIVE: US warplane found crashed in field
• 2 pilots 'safe' after ejecting jet near Benghazi
• Tripoli targeted for a third night with navy base bombed
• Gaddafi's HQ struck again as international criticism mounts
• Exit strategy: 'How long is a piece of string?' says UK minister


14.40 The Arab League has condemned "crimes against civilians" in Yemen.

14.37 Nick Harvey, the Armed Forces Minister, appeared to show disdain for a question about an exit strategy from Libya when he was asked on BBC Breakfast "How long is this going to last?" and he answered: "How long is a piece of string?". He then added:

Quote We don't know if this is going to result in a stalemate. We don't know if his capabilities are going to be degraded quickly. Ask me again in a week.

14.27 Libyan rebels want a quick ceasefire and a lifting of the sieges of Libyan cities by Gaddafi's forces, a UN envoy who met rebel leaders in Tobruk said, AFP has reported.

14.22 Libyan rebels react on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi

14.19 Coalition forces have struck Libyan military targets with 24 more Tomahawk missiles, US officials said on Tuesday. That brought to about 160 the number of Tomahawk strikes aimed at disabling Libyan command and control facilities, air defenses and other targets since the operation started on Saturday.

14.13 Fierce fighting in town southwest of Tripoli, 9 killed, AFP has reported.

14.02 The Telegraph's interactive map details the key bases, attack routes, and targets of the coalition forces across Libya.

14.01Libyan rebels observe the frontline on the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi

Video 14.00 Libya: US war plane crash lands in field near Benghazi

13.53 Sir Menzies Campbell has contributed to the debate over whether or not it would be legal for coalition air strikes to target Gaddafi. He told BBC Radio 4's The World At One:

Quote Let me offer you a legal opinion rather than a political one.

If Col Gaddafi is, for example, in the lead tank in a column of tanks attacking a town filled with civilians, then that tank and Col Gaddafi would be a legitimate target.

If he were in a command and control centre exercising detailed and overall responsibility for military action contrary to the terms of the resolution, then he would be a legitimate target.

But he is not a legitimate target from the point of view of assassination.

13.47 Syria - hundreds of protesters are marching, demanding freedom, in the south of the country.

13.46 NATO allies have agreed to use the organisation's naval power to enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya, a NATO diplomat told AFP.

The North Atlantic Council, NATO's decision-making body, "has agreed on implementing (the) arms embargo from seaside".

13.40 Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci has said that Western-led air strikes on Gaddafi's forces in Libya were disproportionate and called for an "immediate cessation of hostilities".

13.38 Yemen - opposition has rejected President Saleh's offer to step down in January 2012 and say the coming hours are decisine, Reuters has reported.

12.42 Rob Crilly, referring to the crewman who ejected from his US jet as it crashed into a field near Benghazi, tweets:

Twitter Locals queued up to hug and shake hand of the crewman to thank him for the work of the coalition

12.38 Further doubt was thown on the coalition's exit strategy this morning, thanks to Nick Harvey, the Armed Forces Minister. Asked in a television interview when the endgame might begin, he replied: "How long is a piece of string?"

12.27 British Maj Gen John Lorimer is giving a briefing on the military situation in Libya. He has said the coalition operation in Libya is having a "very real effect", and that the Libyan government attack on Benghazi on Monday was "stopped in its tracks".

12.15 The American airman in the US jet which crashed in Libya would not have known whether the armed men advancing towards him were friendly rebels or soldiers loyal to Colonel Gaddafi, according to the Telegraph's Rob Crilly, who broke the story earlier.

12.13 Russia has called for an immediate ceasefire in Libya and the start of political negotiations. Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said:

Quote We urge (the sides) to do everything to end the violence.We are convinced that the shortest path to the safety of peaceful civilians is through an immediate ceasefire and the start of dialogue.

12.01 Nick Squires has just landed on USS Kearsarge, a large amphibious assault ship sitting in the Mediterranean. He writes:

There are US Marine Harriers on the deck and we have been told that they are to carry out bombing missions over Libya tonight. We are not being told how close to the coast of Libya we are. It could be a long night. We arrived here after spending a night on the USS Ponce, a smaller ship which is part of the American naval operation here in the Med.

11.57 The French government has said that Nato will support the coalition on Libya when the US scales back its participation, Reuters has said. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has said that 'significant' military action in Libya should recede in days.

Telegraph 11.51 Helping Libya's transition to democracy is as much in Britain’s interests as it is the Libyan people’s and this future has no place in it for Colonel Gaddafi, George Grant has argued in the Telegraph.

11.48 The European Union will take part in Addis Ababa in a meeting called by the African Union later today, with the aim of finding a joint approach to ending the fighting in Libya, AFP has reported.

11.45 A spokesman for David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that the Cabinet meeting this morning did not discuss targeting Col Gaddafi. He said:

Quote It was a broad discussion covering all the aspects of what is going on in the country and Government policy on Libya. Cabinet is completely united on this issue, but clearly people will have questions. Cabinet is a forum for having these kinds of discussions. That's the way we work.

11.43 Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey has refused to rule out the deployment of British ground troops in Libya. He BBC1's Breakfast programme:

Quote I don't think we would at this stage rule anything in or rule anything out but I agree with the distinction that you draw between landing an occupying force and the use of anybody on the ground.

11.30 Forces loyal to Gaddafi killed five people, four of them children, in Misrata, a spokesman in the rebel-held city east of Tripoli said.

Snipers and tanks deployed on the city's main artery opened fire "blindly" killing five, according to the rebel spokesman.

11.04 The second pilot from the crashed US military jet has been safely rescued, Reuters has reported. Both crewman have now been recovered from the F-15E jet which crashed in a field near Benghazi last night.

Telegraph 10.56 Sky is reporting that further Arab countries are expected to back the military commitment to a no-fly zone in Libya. Support from Arab countries has not be very forthcoming with only two offering military assistance so far.

10.54Unrest in the Middle East has spread to Yemen with anti-government protesters demanding the ousting of Yemen's President's Ali Abdullah Saleh.

10.51 Vince Crawley, a spokesman for the Africa Command, has said that both crew members ejected from the US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle, which crashed in Libya, and sustained minor injuries. Mr Crawley said one crew member had been safely recovered and the operation to recover the other was under way. He added that plane was not shot down but suffered mechanical failure.

PICTURES 10.43 Have a look at our exclusive picture gallery on the US fighter jet which has crash landed near Benghazi, in Libya. Thanks to David Sim on the picture desk for putting this together. Click here: Libya: American fighter jet crash lands in field near Benghazi

10.41 Yemen - President Ali Abdullah Saleh says there could be civil war in the Arabian Peninsula state because of efforts to stage what he called "coup" against his rule, Reuters has reported. He told army commanders:

Quote Those who want to climb up to power through coups should know that this is out of the question. The homeland will not be stable, there will be a civil war, a bloody war. They should carefully consider this.

10.37 Forty people were killed in an attack on Monday by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on the rebel-held city of Misrata, a resident told Reuters on Tuesday.

The resident, Mohammed Ahmed, said he had been given the figure by a member of a rebel committee in charge of medical care. He did not say how many of the dead were civilians and how many rebel fighters.

10.23 US military has confirmed that a US fighter jet has crashed in Libya. A spokesman said that one crewman had been recovered and one was "in process of recovery". The Telegraph's Rob Crilly broke the story this morning that an F-15E jet had crash landed in a field last night.

10.17 The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has reported that thousands of Libyans have fled their homes in the east of the country.

10.08 President Dmitry Medvedev has broken ranks with Vladimir Putin by slamming the premier's comments on the Libya conflict. He said:

Quote Under no circumstances is it acceptable to use expressions which essentially lead to a clash of civilisations. Such as 'crusade' and so on. It is unacceptable. Otherwise, everything may end up much worse compared to what's going on now. Everyone should remember that.

09.56 Tunisia - a man has set himself alight in Sidi Bouzid, where a self-immolation last year unleashed protests that toppled the president, as the UN chief was due to visit.

09.53 The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg tweets:

Twitter General Richards has just left cabinet via the side door, tells my colleague, 'i'm not talking today'

09.49 Tanks are firing shells at Libyan rebel-held city of Misrata, Reuters reports.

09.46 Elsewhere in the region, AP is reporting that a spokesman for Yemeni President Saleh says leader willing to step down by end of year as part of 'constitutional' transfer of power. He also said Saleh would pledge not to hand power to the military.

09.44 Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan told ITV's Daybreak:

Quote It is quite clear to me that the removal of Gaddafi is the strategy that's being pursued here. It's not necessarily the stated strategy but I think it's the intention of the west at least, not necessarily by directly attacking him or killing him, but by creating a division whereby he can be brought down by his opposition in the country, that would be probably the ideal situation....

He needs to be removed before we can be sure that we are going to succeed in our objective of protecting the civilian population from attack.

09.34 More on that exclusive from The Telegraph's Rob Crilly - the US warplane found crashed in a field in Libya is an F-15E Eagle.

F-15 Strike Eagle E taxi's for take off. Similar to the one found crashed in Libya

09.32 Prosecutors have identified at least seven incidents of demonstrators being shot in the early days of the Libyan uprising which could constitute crimes against humanity.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo said he aims to report on his investigation to the United Nations Security Council on May 4, before submitting a case to the court's judges.

But Mr Moreno Ocampo acknowledged that the evidence may not be available to get dictator Muammar Gaddafi's name on to the charge sheet, and prosecutors will face a "challenge" to ensure suspects are detained and delivered to the court. He said:

Quote We are collecting evidence, focusing on the first 12 days, which is a clear-cut situation where there were unarmed civilians in demonstrations. We are confirming that they were shot. We have evidence that they were shot. The issue for us now is to find who shot them and who ordered the shooting.

We are identifying at least seven incidents which could constitute crimes against humanity and we are trying to get evidence of that and of who made the decisions and who did the shooting."

Telegraph 09.29 Oil prices have slipped below $115 a barrel as traders decided to take profits after a US general said he expected air strikes to slow. But the market still expect the price to rise further in the short-term as tensions in the Middle East rise as protests spread to Yemen and Syria.

09.27 Pro-Gaddafi forces are attacking the town of Zintan using heavy weapons, Reuters is quoting Al-Jazeera as saying.

09.24 Paul Waugh of Politics Home tweets:

Twitter William Hague arrives at Cabinet. Asked if everyone is still "on the same page" re #Libya, replies: "Yes of course"

09.18: Rob Crilly EXCLUSIVE - The Telegraph's Rob Crilly says a crashed US warplane has been found in a field in Libya. It is believed that a mechanical failure brought it down late last night and it is understood that the pilot was taken by rebels and is safe.

09.03 Asked whether Col Gaddafi was being targeted, Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey told BBC Breakfast: "We are targeting military targets in accordance with the United Nations resolution and the objective is to reduce the threat to civilian life in Libya." When pressed further on the apparent differences between Gen Sir David and Mr Hague and Dr Fox, Mr Harvey insisted:

Quote Our targets are not individuals, our targets are the military capability that runs the risk of presenting a threat to the Libyan population.

Telegraph 08.54 MI5 fears that Islamic extremists could use Britain's military involvement in Libya to recruit potential terrorists. Read our exclusive report by Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph's Security Correspondent.

08.50 President Barack Obama leads a briefing on the current situation in Libya by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon

08.48 The United States is wary of being drawn into another war after long campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has ruled out specific action to overthrow Gaddafi. General Carter Ham, who is leading US forces in the Libyan operation, said:

Quote My sense is that - that unless something unusual or unexpected happens, we may see a decline in the frequency of attacks

08.46 Libya's deputy ambassador at the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi - who defected to the opposition early in the uprising - said the Gaddafi regime could fall within two weeks if coalition air strikes continue. Mr Dabbashi said the opposition Transitional National Council was in contact with the coalition, and its military leaders were working "in close co-ordination" with Britain, France and Italy. He told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme:

Quote On the part of the people, there is no support for Gaddafi in the country at all. The only support he has is the security forces. It is a matter of time, but I think, with the aerial assistance of the coalition forces, it will be soon. It will take maybe two weeks, but I don't think it will take months.

08.37 Proud Libyan has tweeted:

Twitter Gaddafi will do anything to prove a point. He will kill ppl to say they were killed in air raids, anything! He is a pathological liar!

Telegraph The RAF’s new Typhoon Eurofighter fighter jet made history when it took to the skies on its first combat mission. A pair of British F2 Typhoon aircraft took off from southern Italy on their first patrols to enforce the UN-imposed no-fly zone over Libya.

08.33 Turkey has ruled out the possibility of sending any combat mission to Libya but could take part in operations with humanitarian purposes, the daily Hurriyet quoted the Turkish Prime Minister as saying. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said:

Quote We will not participate with our fighting forces. It is impossible for us to think that our fighters drop bombs over Libyan people. We do not want Libya to become a second Iraq... A civilization in Iraq collapsed within eight years. More than a million people were killed there.

08.31Libyan soldiers survey the damage to an administrative building hit by a missile late Sunday in the heart of Gaddafi's Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli

Telegraph 08.29 More than half of people believe British servicemen should not risk their lives protecting Libyan opposition forces, a survey shows. Read the full story here.

Telegraph 08.28 David Cameron has told MPs that a “bloody massacre” was narrowly avoided by the military action in Libya.

Telegraph 08.23 David Cameron and his ministers have become embroiled in a public dispute with Britain’s senior military officer, Gen Sir David Richards, amid growing questions about the next phase of the mission in Libya. The PM intervened after the Chief of the Defence Staff said attacks on the Libyan leader were “not allowed” under the United Nations resolution.

08.19 An article in Time magazine has questioned whether Barack Obama knows what he is doing when it comes to Libya and the demonstrations across the Middle East. The piece says: "As the crises accumulate, Obama has remained the picture of detached serenity, which only agitates his critics more."

08.04 Follow the latest developments in Libya through The Telegraph's interactive guide, created by our graphics team.

07.59 Con Coughlin has argued that the decision of RAF Tornado crews to abort their mission and return home to their base in Norfolk after civilians were reported to be in the target area allows the Allies to keep the moral high ground. He writes:

Con Coughlin The humanity displayed by the fighter pilots from 9 Squadron was in stark contrast to the brutality regularly meted out by Gaddafi's forces to antigovernment rebels. Human rights groups have received numerous reports of captured rebels being subjected to summary executions and torture.

07.51 Three western journalists, including two from the AFP news agency, who went missing last week, have been arrested by forces loyal to Col Gaddafi, AFP reports.

07.47 @Tripolitanian tweets:

Twitter You think #Libya State TV is bad now? In the 80s he would broadcast live executions.

07.44 ProudLibyan has tweeted:

Twitter Gaddafi will destabilise Egypt, Tunisia. He will destabilise the Mediterranean area. He is a loose cannon, his shots will go beyond borders

07.33 Unconfirmed reports are around again today that Col Gaddafi's son, Khamis, 27, was blown up and killed by a kamikaze pilot Libyan pilot.

07.28 A rebel fighter points his gun at a suspected Gaddafi supporter along the Benghazi-Ajdabiyah road near Ajdabiyah

Telegraph 07.15 Today's leader in The Telegraph argues that Britain's RAF pilots are entitled to know why they are risking their lives in Libya but regrettably, no coherent explanation has been given.

07.13 China has called again for an end to fighting in Libya, expressing "deep concern" at reported civilian casualties and warning of a "humanitarian disaster".

Video 07.04 Watch David Cameron telling the House of Commons that Libya "needs to get rid of Gaddafi".

07.01 Shabab Libya, the Libyan Youth Movement, tweets:

Twitter Latest in Zintan, as far as we understand it remains in revolutionary hands, but faced a very severe attack from Gaddafi

06.53 Richard Spencer, in Tripoli, has reported on meeting the city's militias - made up of thousands of volunteers who have come forward in recent weeks to support Col Gaddafi. He writes:

Richard Spencer There are already thousands of young men who have been handed AK47s and told to turn up to rallies in Green Square to celebrate the regime or to man the scores of checkpoints set up at night across the city. In jeans and sweatshirts, they flag down passing cars, searching them, questioning occupants. It is never quite clear what the right answer is.

06.50 The Telegraph's Rob Crilly has tweeted:

Twitter Think we could be heading into a static phase and eventual break-up of Libya. Rebels still too disorganised to win without air support

06.45 Rebels have pushed on to the disputed town of Ajdabiya. Rob Crilly was there, and writes:

Rob Crilly The rebels raced each other along the Tripoli road making pell-mell for the disputed town of Ajdabiya. They charged ahead, convinced war planes were in the air again. Buoyed by the sight of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's tanks lying smashed and charred along the route, the disparate column of pickups and saloon cars had chased government troops almost 90 miles out of the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

06.41 The Telegraph's Damien McElroy has described the mood in southern Tripoli, a Gaddafi stronghold, as the air strikes fall. He writes:

Girls as young as six recited for foreign visitors the regime's main slogans, including the latest chants about the army going house to house to wipe out those involved in the uprising that has divided Libya.

06.36 US officials have said that the rate of air strikes on Libya is slowing down. Building on what they called a successful first stage of international military action in Libya, the focus is shifting to widening a no-fly zone across the North African country while continuing smaller-scale attacks on Libyan air defences and setting the stage for a humanitarian relief mission. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the US military's role will lessen in coming days as other countries take on more missions.

06.34 Gaddafi's Tripoli compound was targeted by air strikes for a second night. Loud explosions and anti-aircraft fire ripped across the night sky.

06.30 The Libyan leader’s aides are struggling to know how to present him: as a friend of the West, or a man to be feared, Richard Spencer has reported from Tripoli. The Telegraph's Middle East Correspondent says:

Richard Spencer The hunt is on for the new Comical Ali. Those who think back to the invasion of Iraq may remember Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the information minister whose ever more optimistic accounts of his government’s triumphs as allied forces advanced in 2003 provoked hilarity in the Western media in Baghdad and their audiences back home.

06.26 Mary Riddell, a Telegraph columnist, has argued that David Cameron must be as flexible at home as he has been with foreign policy. She writes:

If Mr Cameron is not to be a one-term failure, he must be as flexible on domestic issues, the economy and NHS reforms included, as he has been on foreign policy. He will have to navigate many setbacks in Libya as well as rethinking our relationship with other thuggish Middle Eastern rulers whom we have courted for their oil.

06.17 Welcome back to The Telegraph's live blog, following events in Libya and across the Middle East on Tuesday.

Our team in Libya:

Rob Crilly Rob Crilly

Damien McElroy

Richard Spencer Richard Spencer

Colin Freeman
Colin Freeman

Libya crisis timeline

Libya as it happened: March 21
Libya as it happened: March 20
Libya as it happened: March 19
Libya as it happened: March 18
Libya as it happened March 10
Libya as it happened March 9
Libya as it happened March 8
Libya as it happened March 7
Libya as it happened March 4
Libya protests: as it happened Mar 3

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