Military calls for ceasefire
Tripoli, Libya – The Libyan military today called for an immediate ceasefire after allied forces pounded one of its convoys near Benghazi and, according to U.S. officials, significantly degraded the regime’s air defense capability.
U.S. military leaders insisted the air campaign was limited – enforcement of a United Nations-mandated no-fly zone and preventing troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi from further pressing rebel positions.
“We are not going after Gadhafi,” U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said at a Pentagon press briefing. “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.
Allied aircraft struck a Misrata area airport that has both civilian and military uses, said Gortney.
Three B-2 bombers struck only military positions at the airfield, he said.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told CNN that Gadhafi forces have shown little ability to counter coalition firepower.
The alliance of U.S., European and Arab countries likely won’t rely on the word of the Libyan military, which according to its spokesman Milad al Fuqhi, “issued command to all military units to safeguard immediate cease-fire everywhere.”
“As with previous cease-fire announcements, we have to wait and see if it’s genuine,” U.S. Africa Command spokesman Vince Crawley told CNN. “We urge the Libyan government to do everything it can to demonstrate its sincerity.”
There was violence across the country Sunday, with Gadhafi apparently shelling rebels in the west while allied airstrikes destroyed one of Gadhafi’s convoys in the east.
As of Sunday night local time, the United States and British military had fired a total of 124 Tomahawk missiles at Libya’s air defense sites, Gortney said.
Gadhafi had said the strikes were a confrontation between the Libyan people and “the new Nazis,” and promised “a long-drawn war.”
“You have proven to the world that you are not civilized, that you are terrorists – animals attacking a safe nation that did nothing against you,” Gadhafi had said in an earlier televised speech.
Gadhafi did not appear on screen during his address, leading CNN’s Nic Robertson in Tripoli to speculate that the Libyan leader did not want to give the allies clues about his location. (CNN)