Gadhafi warns of 'long-drawn war' after airstrikes by U.S.,
Sun Mar 20, 2011 08:46
Gadhafi warns of 'long-drawn war' after airstrikes by U.S., allies By the CNN Wire StaffMarch 20, 2011
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi promised "a long-drawn war" Sunday after an international coalition hammered the nation's air defense as part of an operation to enforce a no-fly zone.
Gadhafi said the strikes were a confrontation between the Libyan people and "the new Nazis."
"You have proven to the world that you are not civilized, that you are terrorists -- animals attacking a safe nation that did nothing against you," Gadhafi said in a televised speech.
Throughout the address, an image of a golden fist crushing a model plane that said "USA" filled the screen.
At the same time Gadhafi spoke, his regime was shelling the city of Misrata on Sunday morning using tanks, artillery and cannons, a witness said.
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Gallery: Civil war in Libya "They are destroying the city," said the witness, who is not being identified for safety reasons. He said rebels were fighting back.
Sounds of heavy gunfire could be heard during a telephone conversation with the man. There was no immediate word on casualties.
International military coalition targeted air defense positions near the capital for a second day Sunday.
Some Libyans welcomed the American, French and British military forces.
Others remained fearful of Gadhafi.
Libyans are "afraid to come out because when they do, he attacked them very, very severely," a woman in Tripoli said Sunday. "This is putting terror in all neighborhoods."
The multinational military forces launched the attacks Saturday, convinced that Gadhafi was not adhering to a cease-fire mandated by the United Nations.
American and British ships and submarines fired more than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles and hit about 20 Libyan defense targets in western portions of the country, U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney said at a Pentagon briefing.
Nineteen U.S. warplanes, including stealth bombers and fighter jets, conducted strike operations in Libya on Sunday morning, officials said.
Tomahawk cruise missiles are unmanned and fly close to the ground, steering around natural and man-made obstacles to hit a target programmed into them before launch.
A senior U.S. military official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said the cruise missiles landed near the city of Misrata and the capital, Tripoli.
Scores of missiles were fired in the pre-dawn darkness, and the exact results of the mission were not immediately clear. The United States is expected to conduct a damage assessment of the sites.
The salvo, in an operation dubbed "Odyssey Dawn," was meant "to deny the Libyan regime from using force against its own people," Gortney said.
British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said the Royal Air Force deployed Tornado GR4 fast jets, which flew 3,000 miles from the United Kingdom and back -- making the venture the longest-range bombing mission conducted by the force since the Falklands conflict in 1982.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the international mission "is necessary, it is legal, and it is right."
"I believe we should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people," Cameron said late Saturday night.
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Libya forces advance on main rebel base RELATED TOPICS Libya United Nations Security Council Middle East Conflict But Gadhafi remained defiant, saying Libya will fight back against undeserved "naked aggression."
In a statement broadcast on state TV, his military said the strikes killed 48 people -- "mostly women, children and religious clerics."
"The majority of these attacks were on public areas, hospitals and schools. They frightened the children and women near those areas that were subject to this aggression," the military said.
CNN could not immediately confirm the claim.
The first international strike against Gadhafi's military took place Saturday when French fighter jets fired at a military vehicle.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called the regime's violence against civilians "murderous madness."
But China's foreign ministry said Sunday it did not agree with the use of force in international relations. And Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also denounced the military intervention.
"They (the United States) want to appropriate the oil in Libya; they don't care about anyone's life in that region," Chavez said.
Gadhafi vowed to open weapons depots and said the U.N. charter provides the nation the right to defend itself in a "war zone." He has also issued messages to international powers and said Libyans are ready to die for him.
Some residents said they could receive weapons to fight back.
"We received a phone call around 3 a.m. that everyone should head out in the streets," a woman in Tripoli said. "Normal civilians are being able to have machine guns and take anti-aircraft machine guns ... to fire back at the airplanes."
In Misrata, a witness said Gadhafi's forces are targeting fuel and power stations to make citizens believe the damage is being done by coalition forces. The witness, who was not identified for security reasons, said people celebrated allied airstrikes on loyalist positions in the city.
CNN could not verify the account.
In the city of Benghazi -- a stronghold for rebels that was attacked by Gadhafi forces -- fighter jets flew overhead Sunday. It was not immediately clear whom the jets belonged to.
U.S. President Barack Obama is planning for the U.S. portion of the military action in Libya to only last for a few days.
"After that we'll take more of a supporting role," said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak about sensitive military matters.
Obama authorized U.S. military force on what happened to be the eighth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.
In the next few days, U.S. military officials expect to hand over control to a coalition commander. Canada and Italy are also part of the coalition.
Violence has raged in Libya following protests calling for democracy and demanding an end to Gadhafi's almost 42-year-long rule. The protests have been met by force from the Gadhafi regime, and some members of his military defected to the opposition.
Another witness in Tripoli said she's terrified about how Gadhafi might respond to the airstrikes.
"We're scared. We're not sure what will happen next," she said. "To be honest, I'm scared for my life."
CNN's Nic Robertson, Arwa Damon, Yousif Basil, Chris Lawrence, Jill Dougherty, Elise Labott, Ed Henry, Jim Bittermann, Paula Newton and Richard Roth contributed to this report
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