Libya live blog: 'We're not going after Gadhafi,' U.S. vice admiral says
Curious Libyan onlookers take pictures of dead African teenagers, members of Gadhafi's forces, on Sunday, in area west of Benghazi hit by French warplanes.
March 20th, 2011
06:56 PM ET

Libya live blog: 'We're not going after Gadhafi,' U.S. vice admiral says

For up-to-the-minute coverage of the unfolding situation in Libya, click here.

As of [6:36 p.m. Sunday ET, 12:36 a.m. Monday in Libya] President Obama and his national security team made phone calls Sunday to try to shore up support in Arab governments for the military mission in Libya, with top White House aides reaching out to officials of the Arab League to insist the bombing does not exceed the scope of a U.N. mandate, according to senior administration officials.

The lobbying came after Arab League officials complained earlier Sunday that airstrikes in Libya by the U.S. military and allies went beyond instituting a no-fly zone, CNN's Ed Henry reports. The senior officials said the Obama team stressed to the Arab League that bombing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses falls within the U.N. Security Council resolution's scope of imposing a no-fly zone and taking "all necessary measures" to stop the dictator from attacking civilians in his own country.

[5:57 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:57 p.m. in Libya] Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that the Libyan operation is off to a "a strong and successful start" but he warned against widening the goals of the mission beyond what was spelled out in the United Nations Security Council resolution. Gates spoke from aboard a U.S. military aircraft en route to Russia.

[5:40 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:40 p.m. in Libya] Reacting to the Libyan military's calling a cease-fire with rebels, a British prime minister's office spokesman drew attention to the Libyan government's previous call for a cease-fire, made Friday.

"Everyone will recall that in recent days Col. Gadhafi declared a ceasefire which was promptly violated," the 10 Downing Street spokesman said. "We said then we would judge him on his actions not his words – and we will do so again.

"His obligations are very clearly set out by the U.N. Security Council resolution. Our assessment is that he is in breach of these obligations so we will continue to enforce the resolution."

The Libyan government had called for a cease-fire with rebels on Friday. Rebels and Western governments, however, said the Libyan military continued to fight against the opposition, leading to the international coalition's airstrikes and no-fly-zone implementation on Saturday night.

[5:35 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:35 p.m. in Libya] More on U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney comments on Gadhafi: Gortney was asked about reports of smoking rise from the area of Gadhafi's palace. Gortney said: "We are not targeting his residence."

[5:16 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:16 p.m. in Libya] In his press briefing earlier this afternoon, U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney emphasized that the international coalition's air campaign is not deisgned to target Gadhafi, but is limited to enforcing a no-fly zone and preventing Gadhafi's forces from further pressing rebel positions.

"We are not going after Gadhafi," Gortney said at the Pentagon. "Regime forces are more pressed and less free to maneuver."

Despite Libyan government contentions that women, children and clerics have died in allied attacks, Gortney and other officials said that's not the case. "We have no indication of any civilian casualties," the admiral said.

[4:47 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:47 p.m. in Libya] Reacting to the Libyan military's call Sunday night for an immediate cease-fire, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Africa Command said that "we have to wait and see if it's genuine."

"We urge the Libyan government to do everything it can to demonstrate its sincerity," U.S. Africa Command spokesman Vince Crawley told CNN.

The Libyan government previously had called for a cease-fire with rebels on Friday. Rebels and Western governments, however, said the Libyan military continued to fight against the opposition, leading to the international coalition's airstrikes and no-fly-zone implementation on Saturday night.

Gadhafi's forces shelled opposition forces in the west of the country on Sunday before the call for the cease-fire was made, according to rebels.

[4:42 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:42 p.m. in Libya] Anti-Gadhafi forces are heartened by international coalition attacks that smashed a convoy of about 70 military vehicles belonging to pro-Gadhafi forces outside of Benghazi on Sunday. But they are increasingly concerned that pro-government elements within Benghazi's population will carry out intimidation campaigns and targeted assassinations of opposition leaders in the rebel stronghold in eastern Libya, CNN's Arwa Damon reports.

[4:34 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:34 p.m. in Libya] Senator Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, has questioned the decision by the United States to pursue military action in Libya without clearly defined objectives, and expressed concern over the role of the U.S. in Libya's future.

"Where does our involvement stop?" Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked. "This is why, before it begins, we ought to have a plan and we ought to have outcomes defined as to why American forces, American money are going to be at stake."

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Topics: Libya • Middle East • Military • United Nations • United States

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    It is certainly good news (in disguise) for Colonel Gaddafi, as your joined forces in Libya are only to protect its people (rebels). Yet they not only want your protection, they want you to eliminate Gaddafi as well, knowing the consequences, that if he hangs on to power, he will seek vengeance. So you are serving them as a "borrowed knife".

    March 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  2. John Jacobs

    That's holds on to power still..... Again.

    March 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  3. AspenFreePress

    Obama says, "Gaddafi must go."

    March 20, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  4. McMurdo

    Those spineless snakes at the Arab League screamed for help to protect Libyans and now they whine that it went too far. They have lots to say but no action to back up their bravado. They call out for help but never take any action themselves.

    March 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Reply
  5. Onesmallvoice

    Somehow I don't find the Vice Admiral's statement very credible. Of course we're in there rid Libya of Mohammar Qadaffi and replace with some right-wing pro-Western stooge. What scares me is the idea of these thugs succeeding in their endeavor to do so.

    March 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  6. Chatter

    If people can be misled and pursuaded to believe anything that Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi says as is now apparent – then either we can assume half of the human population is stupid, or it operates under the pressure of others with fear, or it believes any propaganda of any kind, or it is given limited communications. Either way, if people are willing to accept such rubbish in the face of reality and place their own children in risk in pursuit of their own false belief and faith, then they deserve to all disappear off the planet – they are a risk to humanity and the future of the world peace.

    March 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  7. Dee

    Gadaffi just does not get it he should remember 1986 when Reagin was in power and what happened. We should all keep in perspective what the President said this is not the United States alone but an International initiative. I admire him for not rushing to put our service men in harms way and to get the Arab world and other Allies on board but no matter what he does he is criticized.

    President Obama can multi-task and although he is in Brazil he still has to carry on the business of this country as well as other issues facing him in the world. Air Force one has everything at his disposal so we should be praising him instead of denigrating him.

    What is wrong with him participating in "March Madness" brackets we should be happy we have a President who represents all people and can reach out to all generations, this is why the young people can relate to him.
    Those in Congress and every where else I bet were glued to their TV's including Gingrich and the GOP's.

    March 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  8. Cartell

    I am so sick of hearing about people who live in countries with large masses of sand and desert type surrounds fighting and wanting to kill each other – do they have nothing else to do with their lives. It seems not. In almost every case it ends up being about religion, that is disguised as being about either money, oil, or democracy. Why anyone can accept that killing is acceptable to achieve an outcome is beyond civilised common sense. It is so abhorrent that those who take that course deserve all that comes to them, for they are an infection and a virus on the face of the earth.

    March 20, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Reply
  9. chessdad

    I detected a lot of eye blinking when they asked the US general whether they were trying to take out Gadhafi.

    Interesting that it was a British cruise missile that took out the building next to his tent.

    Maybe they will find him in a spider infested hole like Sadaam.

    March 21, 2011 at 12:43 am | Reply
  10. Cleaner

    Gadhafi just declared war on all other religions other than his own. TIme to take him out totally and fast and also every supporter. His existence will be a threat to world peace and humanitarian existance due to the type of bizzare followers he has managed to influence. Come on UN. That was a direct threat of war against all countries. Do not sit on your hands but show you take what is said with belief in what is said. Threats or not!

    March 21, 2011 at 1:02 am | Reply
  11. Matthew K. Kelly

    Now that Gadhafi's forces are softened up it appears the rebels will
    take the offensive again. If they go into cities fighting then civilans are
    at risk and you can't stop it in the cities with airpower. There will
    be masses trying to flee on the boarders. There is a mess there.

    March 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  12. James

    I think it ranges from laughable to downright sad that Rep. Kuinich, a Democrat, Ithink that he has run for president about 54 times and only won his home county and the Tea Party and their uneasy Republican friends are complaining about Congress not being consulted. First, they have been "consulted" informed, constantly briefed by the Pentagon, the State Department, and others. They know exactly what is happening because that is the way it works. It is simply politics, and shows how really low they are when American sons and daughters are trying to save the lives of people in Libya. There is plenty of time for Michele Bachman and Sarah Palin to run for office next time. For right now, we need to back American military personnel, and the job they are doing. What is sad is that The Congress of the United States, has been reduced, to the behavior of a dysfunctional behavior of a town council in Texas. This congress is totally unable to pass a budget to operate the government for this fiscal year much less even discuss future years such as 2012 which starts in September. And in their discussions their impasses are about small amounts of money to please their constituencies and the Koch brothers and defund NOAA, who needs them we have the weather channel now, ad NPR because they are not ideologically pure. This is the same congress that wants to have a role with something serious as Libya? God Save the United States and its Sons and Daughters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other outposts. Back our troops, navy, and Air Force!

    March 22, 2011 at 9:56 am | Reply
  13. Bob Asbury

    If we can, and if there is a clear majority of oppressed who are willing to “give their last measurer” for a democratic revolution, we should help. After all – were it not for French assistance we would not have the freedoms we have today and our founding fathers would have been summarily executed by King George III.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  14. barry davis

    I couldn't believe Wolf Blitzer saying that without the US leading the attack on Gadhfai it would be a mess. What an arregant statement. Does he actually believe that no other country is able to run the show. We just got you to use your weapons and money to start the war, let you think that you was in charge, now listen to your President and turn it over to the coalition and watch the show

    March 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  15. MoamerGadaffi

    I would like to finally stop the war, this is definitely not right

    June 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Reply

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