Libya no-fly zone already established, claims US commander


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Coalition forces have already effectively established a no-fly zone over Libya, according to a senior US military official.


The mission to halt Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's supporters attacking the rebel stronghold in Benghazi and force the Libyan government to comply with a UN Security Council resolution got underway on Saturday.

French jets attacked a convoy of tanks and armoured vehicles manned by Gaddafi loyalists on the outskirts of Benghazi, before British and American naval vessels fired more than 100 Tomahawk missiles at sites linked to Libya's air defence system.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told NBC the military activity on Saturday had been a success.

'Operations yesterday went very well. Gaddafi hasn't had aircraft or helicopters flying the last couple days. So effectively that no-fly zone has been put in place,' he said.

Libyan officials claimed more than 60 people were killed during the raids, but the figure is still to be verified.

The attacks appear to have strengthened Colonel Gaddafi's resolve to retain power and crush the uprising.

In a speech on Sunday morning, the dictator vowed to drag the coalition into a 'long, drawn-out war'.

His rhetoric was backed by his troops launching a heavy artillery bombardment on the rebel-held city of Misrata.

Meanwhile, more details of the role played by the British Armed Forces in the mission have emerged.

Defence secretary Liam Fox revealed a Royal Navy Trafalgar Class submarine had launched Tomahawk land attack missiles and that RAF Tornado GR4s had taken part in a long-distance raid from their base at RAF Marham in Norfolk and fired Stormshadow missiles at Libyan targets.

More Libya no-fly zone already established, claims US commander