By Greg Robb, Polya Lesova and Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab television network, reported that French jets destroyed a number of Libyan tanks.
The U.S. missiles were launched a few hours later.
The leaders in Paris acted after fresh intelligence from Libya indicated that Gadhafi had thrown all his forces forward to capture Benghazi before the West could act.
French warplanes rushed into Libyan airspace on Saturday morning (U.S. Eastern time) while emergency talks were under way in Paris among the U.S., France, Spain, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Arab League. Fighter jet shot down over BenghaziA fighter jet falls from the sky in a ball
of flames after appearing to be shot down
over Benghazi city, while amateur footage
of violence in Misrata alleges government
cease-fire a sham. Video courtesy of Reuters.
In a dramatic statement, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the planes would prevent Gadhafi’s aircraft from bombarding the city and also attack tanks on the ground if necessary to end any assault.
Fighter jet shot down over BenghaziA fighter jet falls from the sky in a ball of flames after appearing to be shot down over Benghazi city, while amateur footage of violence in Misrata alleges government cease-fire a sham. Video courtesy of Reuters.
At a press conference in Paris where she took part in the talks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “there will be other actions to follow” the deployment of the French planes.
Clinton waved away questions about what those other steps might be.
Rebels in Benghazi pleaded for action Saturday reporting they were under attack from troops and tanks in the city.
Sarkozy said it appeared that the reports were true. He said Gadhafi has stepped up his military campaign after the West demanded that he stop the fighting and withdraw his forces.
Reports from cable news channel reporters on the ground in Benghazi reported that there was a general lull in the fighting prior to the attack by the French airplanes.
France, the U.K., the U.S. and others began the action to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution, which is aimed at averting further bloodshed in the struggle for control of the North African nation.
In very brief remarks during a joint appearance with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, President Barack Obama said the people of Libya “must be protected” and the West would not hesitate to act as needed.
Obama has traveled to Brazil as part of a long-planned five-day trip that includes stops in Chile and El Salvador designed to deepen economic ties with the region.