Libyan Attacks Intensify but Coalition Strained


Questions Over U.S. Role in Libya

The no-fly zone is officially in place in the eastern part of Libya, and it is expected to expand in coming days as coalition strikes take out more of Gadhafi's air defenses.

The symbol of the longtime dictator's resistance -- a three-story building in his personal compound -- turned into rubble after being hit by two cruise missiles late Sunday.

Although not launched by the United States, the strategic strike was aimed at military assets inside the compound, not against Gadhafi or his iconic tent nearby, U.S. officials say.

Libya's eccentric leader isn't on the target list but his air defenses, troop and warplanes are. The goal of "Odyssey Dawn" -- led by the United States, France and United Kingdom -- is to enforce the U.N.-sanctioned, no-fly zone and cripple Gadhafi's troops and warplanes moving against rebel strongholds, U.S. officials say. Since Saturday, when strikes were first launched, coalition forces have destroyed several key assets around Tripoli, according to Obama administration officials.

Coalition forces have made "a lot of progress in removing Gadhafi's air defense and air assets," a senior White House official told ABC News today.

Reports from the ground indicate that Gadhafi's forces have pulled back from Benghazi in eastern Libya, and while the mood in the city is tense, the coalition air strikes have also injected new optimism among rebels.

"It was terrifying in the last several days," one Benghazi resident told ABC News. "Now thanks to the international forces, I give Gadhafi a week."

The White House remains skeptical of Gadhafi's continued claim that he wants a ceasefire. The Libyan government continues to take action against rebel strongholds in places such as Misurata in northwest Libya.

In the last 24 hours, at least a dozen or more cruise missiles have been launched from ships in the Mediterranean. The more than 135 missile strikes have been and dozens of attacks from warplanes have been aimed at surface-to-air missile sites, and military airfields.

Thus far, three B-2 stealth bombers have dropped 45 2,000-pound bombs, destroying an airfield near Misurata. The B-2s, which have not been used in combat for eight years, traveled from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, refueled in the air and dropped 90,000 pounds of bombs in all before returning to the United States 25 hours later.

U.S. fighter jets attacked Libyan government spots southwest of Benghazi, a city controlled by rebels that Gadhafi vowed to raze.

The coalition also launched 124 Tomahawak missiles by sea from the Mediterranean at more than 20 coastal targets.

Nine countries, including Spain, Belgium, Denmark and Qatar, have contributed military forces.

The coalition air strikes have breathed new life into the uprising against Gadhafi in Benghazi. The rebel forces are now pushing west, trying to take back ground they lost in the past few days.

Gadhafi has vowed a "long war" against allied forces, reportedly handing out arms freely to men and women.

"This is a colonialist and crusading aggression," he said Saturday. "Now we should arm all the masses, open the arms depots.

"You're not capable of a prolonged war in Libya," he warned. "We consider ourselves ready for a long war."

Late into the night, anti-aircraft fire could be heard all over the capital of Tripoli, signaling Gadhafi's will to keep fighting.

Libya's state television showed images of dead civilians and women and children being used as human shields, although Gadhafi was absent from the cameras. Libyan TV quoted the armed forces command as saying 48 people were killed and 150 wounded in the allied assault so far. It said most of the casualties were children but there has been no confirmation of these casualties from coalition or independent sources.

ABC News' Alex Marquardt, Luis Martinez and Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

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