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Spanish fighter jets join Libya mission

RIA Novosti

17:55 21/03/2011

ROME/MADRID, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - Three Spanish warplanes on Monday took part in the Western-led Operation Odyssey Dawn to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, Italian media reported citing undisclosed military sources.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said earlier in the day Spain would contribute four F-18 fighter jets to carry out air patrol missions and also send an F-100 frigate and a submarine for maritime surveillance to help impose an international arms embargo on the Muammar Gaddafi regime.

"The Libyan regime has not complied with the UN resolution, but the opportunity remains for them to do so immediately," he said.

Operation Odyssey Dawn was launched on Saturday to enforce a UN Security Council resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, as well as to stop Muammar Gaddafi's forces from bombing civilians.

Spain is part of the coalition, along with Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Qatar and Canada. On Sunday, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox called for NATO to take over Odyssey Dawn.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini backed the idea on Monday, suggesting that NATO should take over the command of the military operation against Libya.

However, a consensus is hampered by Turkey, which is opposed to armed intervention, and its position shared by Germany, DPA reported.

France is another impediment, arguing that the Western military alliance has "a bad reputation" in the Arab world and could antagonize public opinion.

Libyan television has reported that at least 50 civilians have been killed and over 150 wounded in the strikes and that many health and education facilities have been destroyed.

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