Daily Israel Report

Attack on Libya Extends to Tripoli

Reports say smoke was coming out of Qaddafi's military compound after airstrikes in Tripoli on Sunday night.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/21/2011, 3:30 AM / Last Update: 3/21/2011, 3:14 AM

The international airstrike on Libya expanded on Sunday and according to reports, has also hit the capital Tripoli.

The BBC reported on Sunday that witnesses in Tripoli had said they heard loud blasts and anti-aircraft fire in the capital.

The network’s reporter in Tripoli said that a heavy barrage of anti-aircraft fire was heard in the city center on Sunday night. He added that a column of smoke could be seen in the area of Bab al-Aziziya, where Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has his military base and compound.

He noted, however, that it is believed there are anti-aircraft weapons close to Qaddafi’s compound, which may have been targeted rather than the compound itself.

Meanwhile, CNN reporter Nic Robertson reported that a four-story building in the Tripoli compound has been heavily damaged. He added that two circular holes are visible in the building.

CNN added that Qaddafi’s whereabouts were not known.

Earlier on Sunday, a Libyan military spokesman said during a news conference that the armed forces had ordered a ceasefire across the entire country, beginning at 9:00pm local time. However, heavy gunfire and sporadic explosions were still heard in the streets of Benghazi, the rebel stronghold, on Sunday night, according to a witness who spoke with the Reuters news agency. Other unconfirmed reports spoke of pro-Qaddafi fighters opening fire from cars in the city.

U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said the ceasefire “isn't true or it was immediately violated.”

Qatar Joins Offensive
Meanwhile, the U.S. and France said on Sunday that Qatar is planning to send four planes to join the coalition enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya, making it the first Arab country to play an active part in the campaign against Qaddafi.

According to U.S. Vice Admiral William Gortney, other Arab countries are also preparing to join the campaign. Gortney added that those governments would make their own announcements on the issue in due course.

Libyan media announced on Sunday that Qaddafi plans to arm at least one million citizens in response to the offensive on his country to allow them to fight rebel forces. He also vowed to “exterminate” any Libyan who fought alongside foreign forces.

Also on Sunday, the Arab League, which previously supported an international proposal to close Libya's skies, condemned the operation. “What we want is civilians' protection, not shelling more civilians,” an Egyptian daily quoted Arab League head Amr Moussa as saying.