Qaddafi Compound Demolished as Coalition Sees 'Significant Success' in Libya
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The 4-story compound in downtown Tripoli that was home to Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi was demolished by missile attacks, according to reporters near the area.
There was no known injuries at it remains unclear where the leader has been living since the no-fly zone was ordered.
There were two circular holes in the roof, which is consistent with a missile strike, and rubble littered the street. It remains unclear when the strike occurred, reported Fox News’ Steve Harrigan.
Pentagon official had previously said Sunday that the coalition “will not be going after Qaddafi.”
The missile attack followed a day where the U.S. and allied forces claimed significant success in the early stages of enforcing a U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone in Libya, said a military official at the Pentagon.
Military officials confirmed at a press conference Sunday that the U.S. fired 124 Tomahawk missiles onto strategic air defense systems across Libya. There were no reports of any allied planes being lost and no reports of civilian injury, said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, the director of the Joint Staff.
The array of Tomahawk cruise missiles lit the night sky and were fired from a British submarine and a number of American destroyers and subs.
“I’m not ruling out further such missile strikes against valid targets if and when the need arises,” he said.
The White House also sounded optimistic about the action, which it called "a very good first day."
A total of 15 U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft engaged Libya, including three B2 bombers. The bombers targeted pro-Qaddafi ground forces, he said.
The U.S.-led mission had a support cast of British and French fighters. Other countries will likely join the fray once the no-fly zone becomes more established. At that point, the U.S. will also likely give way to France or Britain to take the lead.
Planes also blasted a line of tanks that had been moving on the rebel capital Benghazi, in the opposition-held eastern half of the country, reported the Associated Press. On Sunday, at least seven demolished tanks smoldered in a field 12 miles south of Benghazi, many of them with their turrets and treads blown off, alongside charred armored personnel carriers, jeeps and SUVs of the kind used by Gadhafi fighters.
"I feel like in two days max we will destroy Gadhafi," said Ezzeldin Helwani, 35, a rebel standing next to the smoldering wreckage of an armored personnel carrier, the air thick with smoke and the pungent smell of burning rubber. In a grisly sort of battle trophy, celebrating fighters hung a severed goat's head with a cigarette in its mouth from the turret of one of the gutted tanks.
Gortney made clear the intention of these strikes were to protect the Libyan people from their embattled leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
“We are not going after Qaddafi,” said Gortney.
Gortney said the no-fly zone will likely encompass the stretch of land from Benghazi to Tripoli, the top third of the country. Rebels occupy Benghazi while Qaddafi forces remain in Tripoli.
Pentagon officials Sunday were poring over satellite images to ascertain the damage of Saturday's military strikes.
Anti-aircraft fire erupted in the Libyan capital on Sunday night, with volleys of tracer fire arching into the air, marking the start of a second night of allied strikes on the country. The U.S. and its allies continued to fight against targets of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, who on Libyan state radio said the raids were "acts of terrorism".
Qaddafi added that all of the country's people were now carrying weapons to defend the nation.
"We promise you a long war," he said in the address.
Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. and allied forces have effectively established a no-fly zone over Libya in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
"We've had a pretty significant impact in this first 24 hours ... I would say the no-fly zone we were tasked to put in place is now in place," Mullen said.
His Highness El-Sayyid Idris Abdullah Al-Senussi, nephew of His Majesty King Idris of Libya and the son of His Highness El-Sayyid Abdallah Abed Al-Senussi, made a statement exclusively obtained by Fox supporting military action against Qaddafi.
"I strongly support the military actions taken by coalition forces against Muammar al-Qaddafi," Al Senussi said. "I wish to commend the French forces along with the other coalition nations participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn. I also wish to commend the Arab League for their historic resolution condemning Muammar al-Qaddafi and calling for a no-fly zone in Libya that lead to the U.N. adopting resolution 1973."
Large explosions were heard in Tripoli, possibly a cruise missile targeting a command and control center, Fox News' Steve Harrigan reported. Anti-aircraft tracer fire from pro-Qaddafi forces was seen in the night sky after an explosion was heard 2 miles from the compound housing the Libyan strongman.
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