Libya Declares Ceasefire after UN Resolution, but Fighting Continues
Muammar Gaddafi’s government says it will end military operations in line with UN resolution but reports of attacks continue.
Libya’s government has announced an immediate ceasefire against pro-democracy protesters, hours after the United Nations Security Council authorised a no-fly zone over the country.
In a statement televised on Friday, Moussa Koussa, the Libyan foreign minister, said his government was interested in protecting all civilians and foreigners.
“We decided on an immediate ceasefire and on an immediate stop to all military operations,” he said, adding “[Libya] takes great interest in protecting civilians”.
Koussa said because his country was a member of the United Nations it was “obliged to accept the UN Security Council’s resolutions”.
The announcement comes despite Saif al-Islam, one of Muammar Gaddafi’s sons, saying earlier Friday that Libya is not afraid of the UN resolution authorizing military strikes to protect Libyan civilians, Al Arabiya television reported. Al Arabiya did not say where or when he made the remark. [Jerusalem Post, March 18, 2011]
But government forces continued to fire on the rebel-held western city of Misurata, witnesses said, where an earlier attack had claimed the lives of at least 25 people.
Abdulbasid Abu Muzairik, a resident in the western coastal town, told Al Jazeera there was shelling from artillery and tanks.
“The Gaddafi forces are at the outskirts of the city but they continue to shell the centre of the city,” he said. “The ceasefire has not taken place; he [Gaddafi] is still continuing up until now to shell and kill the people in the city.”
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Moments before the ceasefire was announced, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain will imminently start moving fighter jets to bases from where they can help enforce a no fly zone over Libya.
Cameron, who said British forces would join the UN-sponsored operation if Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi failed to stop attacks on civilians, said the international community would soon set out what it expected from Gaddafi.
France and Norway announced Friday that they will join the international military action against Gaddafi’s forces.
French government spokesman Francois Baroin said on Friday that “The French, who led the calls [for action], will of course be consistent with military intervention.” Asked to specify what that meant, he said “they will participate” in operations.
The resolution was backed strongly by France, the United Kingdom and Lebanon. Ten countries voted in favor of the resolution. Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil abstained.
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