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Update 20:09: After heavy bombardment of Qaddafi’s complex, there are reports that his son Khamis Qaddafi has been killed in strikes. Khamis is a commander of the elite Khamis Brigade
The Latest 16:20 ET: Heavy anti-aircraft fire is being heard in Tripoli right now, according to Reuters. A no-fly zone is now in place in Libya. Air defenses in the country were targeted in the coalition assault, though some in Tripoli are obviously still functioning.
A U.S. official has told Reuters “we are not going after Qaddafi.” However, a CNN producer reports that smoke is now rising from Qaddafi’s complex. The Pentagon is also denying any coalition planes have been shot down, or that there is any evidence civilians have been killed.
Qaddafi’s military is still operating on the ground. He has attacked the city of Misrata today, and rebels there tell Al Jazeera that many are hurt or killed. Qaddafi says there is a cease fire in effect, as of 3 PM ET.
The international coalition is fraying a bit over the issue of civilian deaths in the air strikes. We have no firm numbers on civilians killed, though the Libyan government says 48 non-military individuals have been killed. The Arab League, which once supported the attacks, is now backing away a bit over the civilian deaths.
U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen says U.S. military forces will soon be backing off their leadership position and handing control to the Europeans and Arab League. Admiral Mullen offered no specifics on how he thinks this operation will turn out, saying, “It’s very uncertain on how this ends.”Speaker of the House John Boehner says President Obama must consult with the Congress before more commitments are made to operations in Libya.
Admiral Mike Mullen acknowledged to CBS that western military operations could lead to a stalemate with Qaddafi, according to Reuters.
This follows reports that Qaddafi has sent tanks and troops into the western city of Misrata, killing everything in their path. A rebel tells Al Jazeera: “There are so many casualties we cannot count them.”
Qaddafi has been able to launch ground attacks, despite the installation of a no-fly zone.
Earlier Admiral Mullen said they had “taken out” Libyan air defences and there was no sign of Libyan aircraft, according to the Guardian. “Operations yesterday went very well,” Mullen said. “He [Qaddafi] hasn’t had aircraft or helicopters flying the last couple days. So effectively that no-fly zone has been put in place.”
Meanwhile the Arab League has declared that airstrikes differ from the no-fly zone they had supported, according to Reuters.
Also Russia has called for an end to the use of “non-selective force” in Libya, citing 48 civilian deaths from airstrikes, according to AJ.
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