25 Mar 2011

Gaddafi forces will be destroyed - France

3:28 pm on 25 March 2011

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says the destruction of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's military capacity will be achieved in a matter of days or weeks.

Western forces began bombarding Libya last Saturday to enforce a United Nations Security Council resolution last week that set up the no-fly zone and authorised the use of "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

French officials confirmed they had destroyed a Libyan military plane which had flown in breach of the no-fly zone.

The G-2/Galeb, a training plane with a single engine, had just landed when it was hit by a missile fired by a Rafale jet, a spokesman said.

It was the first such incident of its kind since the operation began.

In the US, Vice-Admiral Bill Gortney told a Pentagon briefing that a total of 350 aircraft were now involved in the operation in some way, about half of them American, the BBC reports.

A total of 38 ships were participating in a naval blockade, he said, 12 of them from the US.

He insisted that ground forces would continue to be attacked as long as they posed a threat to Libyan civilians.

As the bombing raids were resumed on Thursday night, Libyan state television reported that targets in Tripoli and Tajoura had been hit.

Fresh fighting has been reported in Misrata, scene of a bitter battle for control which has lasted for many days.

Fierce fighting is also taking place in the eastern oil town of Ajdabiya where rebel forces are reportedly poised to regain control of the town.

British Prime Minister David Cameron say the UN resolution gives the coalition the right to use all means necessary to prevent the loss of civilian lives.

Turkey is the latest country to join the coalition, with parliament agreeing to send a naval force to the Libyan coast.