Earlier today, 20 French military jets conducted a series of air strikes in Libya, reportedly destroying four pro-Gaddafi tanks outside Benghazi. Hours later the United States launched 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles against some 25 air defense targets in the country. According to the Pentagon, the air strikes are the first step in crippling Libya’s anti-air capability in preparation for enforcing the UN security council approved no-fly zone. Six to twelve hours from now, US military drones will conduct flights over Libyan airspace to evaluate the damage done to Gaddafi’s air defenses. The Department of Defense reports that so far there are no US aircraft or ground forces in Libyan territory.
Currently the operation is under the command of the US. Called Operation Odyssey Dawn, it is being organized from the USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean Sea. However, eventually command of the operation will be handed off to a coalition of states.
In response to the air strikes, thousands of pro-Gaddafi civilians have surrounded the embattled dictator’s compound in Tripoli, forming a human shield against a decapitation strike — famously used at the start of the Iraq War eight years ago.