13 Mar 2011

Arab leaders support Libya no-fly zone

10:29 am on 13 March 2011

The Arab League has backed the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya, where opposition forces are fighting troops loyal to leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

A special meeting in Cairo voted to ask the UN Security Council to impose the policy until the crisis ended, the BBC reports.

Britain and France have pushed for the idea, but have failed so far to win firm backing from the European Union or NATO.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa says the organisation had officially requested the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone against any military action against the Libyan people, which he said should be lifted once the crisis was over.

The Arab League vote for a no-fly zone was opposed only by Syria and Algeria, reports from the Cairo meeting said.

Libyan rebel forces have suffered fresh setbacks including the loss of the key oil port of Ras Lanuf, the BBC says.

Reports suggested that the rebel front line had been pushed back even further back, towards the town of Ujala.

Meanwhile, the Arab League said it had decided to open contacts and cooperate with the rebel Libyan National Council based in Benghazi, which would include contacts on humanitarian assistance, Reuters reports.