Coalition Expands Libyan No-Fly Zone

Army Gen. Carter Ham, head of US Africa Command, said Monday US and coalition forces are working to expand the no-fly zone already in place over parts of northern Libya roughly 1,000 miles beyond Benghazi—an opposition stronghold—westward to Tripoli, the Libyan capital. “The extension of the no-fly zone across the coastal part of the country—almost from boundary to boundary—will enable us to have a greater freedom of movement. It [also] provides a greater ability for humanitarian assistance to be delivered in those areas of Libya for which it may be required,” Ham told Pentagon reporters via video teleconference from AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Ham repeatedly stated that the mission of Operation Odyssey Dawn is to protect civilians, not to seek out Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi or provide support to forces opposing him. “The instructions that we have given our [air]crews . . . is to be very judicious in their application of force,” Ham said. He added, “Where they see a clear situation where civilians are threatened, then they are authorized to [take] action to protect those civilians.” (Ham transcript)