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U.S.-led military forces knocked out much of Libya's air defenses over the weekend with scores of Tomahawk cruise missiles and aerial bombs in the first phase of creating a U.N.-mandated no fly-zone, as differences emerged over targeting Libya's leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
A defiant Col. Moammar Gadhafi vowed a "long war" after the U.S. and European militaries blasted his forces with airstrikes and more than 100 cruise missiles early Sunday, hitting air defenses and at least two major air bases and shaking the Libyan capital with explosions and anti-aircraft fire.
Moammar Gadhafi took advantage of international indecision to attack the heart of the 5-week-old uprising on Saturday, sending troops, artillery and warplanes to swarm the first city seized by the rebels. Crashing shells shook buildings, and the sounds of battle drew closer to Benghazi's center.
Saying the world cannot "stand idly by" as Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi brutalizes civilians, President Obama on Saturday said he had no choice but to authorize military strikes to help enforce a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone.
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.
Diplomats and U.N. officials sought Friday to dispel fears of a wider danger from radioactivity spewing from Japan's crippled nuclear reactors, saying there were no hazards to health outside the immediate vicinity.