Missile Strike Hits Building in Gadhafi's Compound

Target Libya: Gadhafi a Target?

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound was hit by a missile strike late today, as a barrage of airstrikes by U.S. and European militaries destroyed Libyan defenses, rocked the capitol of Tripoli and buoyed the spirits of the opposition.

The strike, however, was not carried out by U.S. forces, an official said. Vice Admiral William Gortney said earlier today that the United States was "not targeting Gadhafi."

According to various reports, Gadhafi's compound was badly damaged, but it was not immediately known how many people were injured or killed.

A United Nations-backed no-fly zone enforced by the U.S. British and French aircraft is being enforced from Tripoli to Benghazi and the top third of the country. Spain, Belgium, Denmark, and Qatar have also joined the coalition.

"It's had a pretty significant effect very early on," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said today of Operation Odyssey Dawn on ABC News' "This Week."

"The no-fly zone has essentially started to have its effects. We are flying over Benghazi right now. He hasn't had any planes in the air the last two days," Mullen said of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Gortney said today that the United States will will soon hand over command to a coalition partner, a point reiterated by several U.S. officials.

Gortney did not rule out that the United States will continue to fly patrols as part of the no-fly zone after this initial phase, but for now the United States will provide tanker refuelers, ISR and electronic jammers to the coalition no-fly zone.

"We judge these strikes to have been very effective in significantly degrading the regime's air defense capability," Gortney said of the 124 Tomahawks that have been dropped. "There has been no new air activity by the regime and we have detected no radar emissions from the air defense sites targeted and there has been a significant decrease in the air use of all Libyan air surveillance radars which is most of those limited to areas around Tripoli and Sirte."

American F-16s and AV-8 Harrier jets patrolled overhead, dropping bombs on pro-Gadhafi forces who were still continuing their offensive on rebel strongholds in eastern Libya, a Pentagon official said. About 10 miles south of Benghazi, 15 U.S. aircraft along with French and British fighters struck at Libyan mechanized forces advancing on Benghazi. Gortney said the strikes had killed dozens of Libyan troops.

Meanwhile, in Tripoli, anti-aircraft fire could be seen lighting up the night sky.

"Today there is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel," opposition spokesman Jalal ElGallal told ABC News in Tobruk. "[With this intervention the fight is] evening up a little bit, so obviously the morale must be sky-high."

A spokesman for Gadhafi's government said all Libyan armed forces units have been told to follow a ceasefire. The ceasefire was being ordered after taking into account the civilian deaths, and the destruction of civilian and military buildings, the Libyan government spokesman told reporters. And all Libyans have been urged to participate in a peaceful march from Tripoli to Benghazi.

But U.S. officials are skeptical of the government's claims.

"We will watch his actions, not his words," a senior White House official said.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
You Might Also Like...