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The UN Council votes on whether to approve a no-fly zone over Libya AP Photo/Jason DeCrow via PA Images

No-fly zone over Libya approved by UN

UN members voted on the no-fly zone last night, which came hours after Gaddafi vowed to crush the rebellion in his country.

THE UN SECURITY Council has approved a no-fly zone over Libya.

Last night’s move now paves the way for international air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

The council made the decision five days after the Arab League urged the UN’s most powerful body to try to halt Gaddafi’s advancing military and reverse the realities on the ground, where rebels and their civilian supporters are in danger of being crushed by pro-government forces.

The Thursday vote was 10-0 – five countries abstained, including Russia and China, which have veto power in the council, along with India, Germany and Brazil. Russia and China expressed concern about the United Nations and other outside powers using force against Gaddafi, and Germany expressed fear that military action would lead to more casualties.

The resolution came hours after Gaddafi went on Libyan television and vowed to crush the rebellion with a final assault on Benghazi.

In an interview broadcast just before the vote, Gaddafi said “the UN Security Council has no mandate. We don’t acknowledge their resolutions.” He pledged to respond harshly to UN-sponsored attacks.

But Libya’s Dabbashi said the council’s action will make “the people of Benghazi … feel safe from this time on.”

“It is a clear message to the Libyan people that they are not alone, that the international community is with them and is going to help them to protect themselves,” he said. “It is also a clear message to Col Gaddafi and those who are supporting him that there is no place for dictatorship, there is no place for killing the people.”

The resolution bans all flights in Libya’s airspace to help protect civilians and also authorizes UN member states to take “all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.”

It also calls for stronger enforcement of the arms embargo, adds names of people, companies and other entities to the list of those subject to travel bans and asset freezes, and requires all countries to ban Libyan flights from landing, taking off or overflying their country.

It demands that Libya ensure the “rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance” and asks UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish an eight-member panel of experts to assist the Security Council committee in monitoring sanctions.

In a dramatic reversal the United States joined the resolution’s initial supporters Britain, France and Lebanon, and not only helped push for a quick vote but pressed for action beyond the creation of a no-fly zone to protect civilians from air, land and sea attacks by Gaddafi’s fighters.

US officials said the resolution provides a strong legal base for enforcing the no-fly zone and for countries to carry out air and sea strikes against Gaddafi’s forces.

- AP

Read more about what a no-fly zone is>

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