Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mullen: No-fly zone effectively in place in Libya

Washington (CNN) -- A no-fly zone in Libya is "effectively in place," U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told CNN on Sunday.

So far, air attacks by coalition forces have taken out most of Libya's air defense systems and some airfields, Mullen said in an interview for CNN's "State of the Union" program.

In addition, Libyan ground forces in the vicinity of Benghazi were hit in an effort to prevent attacks on the rebel stronghold, according to Mullen.

"I would say the no-fly zone is effectively in place," Mullen said.

The strategy now is to cut off logistical support for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces, which are "pretty spread out" from Tripoli to Benghazi, Mullen said.

As part of the no-fly zone, combat aircraft from the United States and its allies will be patrolling over Benghazi at all times, he said.

Coalition forces also are looking to jam communications of Gadhafi's forces in what Mullen called the "first phase of a multi-faceted" operation.

The specific goals of what Mullen called a "limited" military mission are to create the no-fly zone, protect civilians and allow humanitarian support to proceed in Libya.

Asked if the military mission ends with Gadhafi's ouster, Mullen responded: "How this ends in a political sense, I can't say."

"We would like to see him withdraw his forces across the country back into garrison" and stop attacking his people, Mullen said of Gadhafi. He also called for the Libyan government and military to allow humanitarian operations to help citizens.

When told that Gadhafi was claiming women and children had been killed in the coalition air strikes, Mullen said the targets

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