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The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, another Washington think tank, estimated last week that the initial establishment of the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone could cost $400 million to $800 million, and then as much as $100 million per week to maintain.

“We’ve taken on a big financial responsibility just with the operational piece,” Mr. Ludes said, adding that other costs would be incurred even if the military action comes to a swift end.