By Elaine Donnelly
Extending sexual misconduct to combat units
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Tiny Qatar became the first Arab country to fly combat missions over Libya on Friday after NATO agreed to take command of the no-fly zone part of air operations against Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
France declared Libya's airspace "under control" on Friday, after NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone in a compromise that appeared to set up dual command centers. Moammar Gadhafi drew a rare rebuke from the African Union, which called for a transitional government and elections.
French fighter jets fired the first shots at Moammar Gadhafi's troops on Saturday, launching the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war in support of an uprising that had seemed on the verge of defeat.
Libya declared an immediate cease-fire Friday, trying to fend off international military intervention after the U.N. authorized a no-fly zone and "all necessary measures" to prevent the regime from striking its own people. A rebel spokesman said Moammar Gadhafi's forces were still shelling two cities.
Col. Moammar Gadhafi's air force bombed the airport in the Libyan opposition's main stronghold on Thursday after the rebels used seized planes and helicopters to launch attacks on the government's advancing troops, witnesses and rebel officials said.
Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces pushed rebel fighters from the strategic oil port of Ras Lanouf on Thursday, driving the opposition from the city with a withering rain of artillery fire.
Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi struck an oil pipeline and oil storage facility Wednesday as they pounded rebels with artillery and gunfire in at least two major cities, killing four people, officials said.
After dramatic successes over the past weeks, Libya's rebel movement appears to have hit a wall of overwhelming power from loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi. Pro-regime forces halted their drive on Tripoli with a heavy barrage of rockets in the east and threatened Tuesday to recapture the closest rebel-held city to the capital in the west.
"Qatar has been a great ally from Day One," said Mustafa Gheriani, spokesman for opposition Benghazi city council. "It's an Arab country to be proud of."
Gheriani, the opposition spokesman, said he has heard nothing about the meeting.