Day 7 Partial NATO Breakthrough:  “There will still be a coalition operation and a NATO operation”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, March 24, 2011.

From Slobodan Lekic, the AP:  NATO agreed late Thursday to take over part of the military operations against Libya – enforcement of the no-fly zone – after days of hard bargaining among its members. But attacks on the ground will continue to be run by the coalition led by the U.S., which has been anxious to give up the lead role.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who announced the NATO agreement in Brussels, said the alliance operation would proceed in parallel with the bombing campaign carried out by coalition aircraft.

"At this moment there will still be a coalition operation and a NATO operation," Fogh Rasmussen said. "We are considering whether NATO should take on the broader responsibility in accordance with the U.N. Security Council resolution, but that decision has not been reached yet."

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised NATO for taking over the no-fly zone, even though the U.S. had hoped the alliance would have agreed Thursday to take full control of the military operation that was authorized by the United Nations, including the protection of Libyan civilians and supporting humanitarian aid efforts on the ground.

NATO expects to commence enforcement of the no-fly zone within 48-72 hours. …

NATO also agreed to launch military planning for a broader mandate, including a no-drive zone that would prevent Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s armor and artillery from moving. The North Atlantic Council is scheduled to meet on Sunday to consider the plans.

"Without prejudging deliberations, I would expect a decision in coming days," Fogh Rasmussen said.  (photo: AP)

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