Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chock One Up For the Rebels: They Shot down Their own Warplane

Libyan Rebels

As world leaders met today in Paris to discuss immediate international military action against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in Libya, I found this stunning video of what the war on the ground in that country actually looks like:

French officials have said that they expect military action could begin within hours after the meeting – but the outcome remained uncertain and it was not clear what effect developments on the ground might have.

France, Britain and the United States were among the major backers of a muscular U.N. Security Council resolution passed Thursday that authorizes a no-fly zone over Libya and “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

France’s U.N. ambassador Gerard Araud told BBC Newsnight that he expected military action to begin within hours of the hastily organized summit in response to the onslaught by Gadhafi’s artillery, warplanes and tanks against rebel-controlled areas.

The downed plane was a rebel fighter jet shot down accidentally. reports:

A warplane was shot down on Saturday over the Libyan city of Benghazi and an opposition activist said it was a rebel fighter jet hit by accident.

Azeldin al-Sharif, an opposition activist, said rebel forces had brought the plane down by mistake over the city of Benghazi.

The city came under attack from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on Saturday, including air strikes by planes loyal to the government.

“The fighter jet that was brought down this morning, was a revolutionary fighter jet and was hit by mistake. There is no communication on the ground,” said Sharif, head of the British-Libyan Solidarity Campaign.

French jets hit Qaddafi forces as civilians flee Libya's rebel capital, Benghazi

An assault by forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi in the heart of Benghazi, the capital of the rebellion against the Libyan strongman’s 41-year reign, led to a panicked flight of thousands of residents and tougher action from the international community today.

Exedus From Benghazi

Qaddafi’s regime had promised a cease-fire repeatedly in recent days. Just yesterday, the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim said the government would comply with the United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate halt of the march toward Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.

But the reality this morning in Benghazi was one of tank shelling, rocket fire, and the first attack by Qaddafi loyalists inside the city since a popular uprising drove most of his soldiers out last month. Civilian homes were hit in the process.

France responded by scrambling its own jets around Benghazi this afternoon, and the French government later announced that it had destroyed a government tank. 

Today’s attacks by Qaddafi's forces came after a week of threats to show “no mercy” to the rebellion in Benghazi and a psychological operations (psyops) campaign of telephone calls to supporters of the rebellion, promising death. Panicked residents packed into cars and drove east.

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