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Libya Closes Airspace After UN Approves No-Fly Zone


Libyan government army rocket launchers are seen in the desert near the west gate of town Ajdabiyah, March 17, 2011

Libyan government army rocket launchers are seen in the desert near the west gate of town Ajdabiyah, March 17, 2011

The Libyan government has closed its airspace to all traffic Friday, as Western nations discuss U.N.-approved military intervention to enforce a no-fly zone over the country.

Europe's air traffic control agency, Eurocontrol, said Tripoli would not accept air traffic until further notice.

The move appears to be in response to the U.N. Security Council's resolution Thursday authorizing U.N. members to take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, including a ban on all flights over Libya. Those measure are likely to include targeted air strikes on Libya's military defenses.

French government spokesman Francois Baroin and Norweigian Defense Minister Grete Faremo announced Friday that their countries will join the international military intervention in Libya. French diplomatic sources said air strikes could come "within hours" to stop forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from hurting civilians.

Meanwhile, pro-Gadhafi forces bombarded the western rebel-held town town of Misrata Friday, as NATO envoys in Brussels discussed ways to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution.

Ten council members voted in favor of the resolution Thursday and no country voted against it. Five members - Brazil, China, Germany, India, and Russia - abstained.

Gadhafi has warned the rebels to surrender or face an imminent attack. He said his forces will show no mercy and dismissed the resolution as worthless.

Thousands filled the streets of Libya's rebel stronghold of Benghazi Thursday, applauding the U.N. vote with cheers, celebratory gunfire, and fireworks.

The United States has started plans for enforcing the no-fly zone. Italy is offering the use of its Sigonella air base on Sicily, and Canada has announced it will send six fighter jets to the region.



Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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