Inside the Rescue Mission: U.S. Air Force Pilots Eject From Malfunctioning F-15E Jet


Amid reports of potential partners such as Norway and the United Arab Emirates hesitating or pulling back from contributing military assets to the effort, a senior White House official told ABC News that "on any given day of a complex situation there will be different data points, but the fact is we have effectively destroyed Gadhafi's air defenses, he has pulled back from Benghazi, and the coalition continues to grow."

Italy has been pushing for a NATO command center for the Libyan operations since the Saturday meeting in Paris and wants it set up in the coming days, but that appears unlikely to happen.

Norway is reportedly also suspending its participation in military operations in Libya until the question of who is in command is clarified.

Members of the Arab League have also expressed skepticism about committing resources. Turkey, which is helping the United States, United Kingdom, Italy and Australia with diplomatic functions within Libya, has also expressed concern about military action.

But White House officials are challenging reports of tension.

On Monday, allied forces flew more missions than the United States for the first time, he said, indicating that the U.S. involvement is moving to the backseat, as Obama had initially promised.

The government of Qatar is "moving in a positive direction," the official said, with the Canadians, Spanish, Italians and Danes committing to join.

Two Qatar Air Force fighter jets and a cargo aircraft were heading to Crete Tuesday to join the coalition in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, officials told the Associated Press.

The no-fly zone is currently in place in Libya, but U.S. officials have acknowledged that the endgame may not necessarily involve the ouster of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, whose threat to raze the city of Benghazi sparked international military intervention.

U.S. and allied officials say their goal at the moment is to widen the no-fly zone, continuing smaller-scale attacks on Gadhafi's air defenses and to set the stage for a humanitarian relief mission.

But inside Libya, chaos continues to prevail. Coalition attacks inserted new energy into the rebel movement in Benghazi, but with the civilian death toll rising and conditions at hospitals deteriorating, residents are getting anxious.

There are "no safe zones in Misrata, no safe places, nobody secure," one doctor told BBC News. "This street, what's called Tripoli street or Ramadan street, they have snipers all over. They are shooting indiscriminately -- everywhere! Shelling, they are shelling. This morning we wake up and they're shelling and bombarding everything!"

On Capitol Hill, both Democrats and Republicans seemed concerned about what they describe as a lack of adequate consultation with the White House. But the White House argued that this kind of limited mission falls within the president's constitutional authority.

"President Clinton pursued the intervention in Bosnia under quite similar circumstances," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Monday. "He did not have a congressional authorization but he did provide a letter, consistent with the War Powers Act. In that instance, for instance, in two weeks you had over 2,000 sorties flown by the United States."

Rhodes pointed to the set of hearings on Capitol Hill that preceded the White House's move.

"On March 1st, the Senate passed a resolution that condemned the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Libya, including the attacks on protesters, and urging the United Nations to take action to protect civilians," he said.

ABC News' Huma Khan and Kevin Dolak contributed to this report.

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