U.S. passes control over Libya no-fly zone to NATO
WASHINGTON, March 25 (RIA Novosti) - The United States will transfer command for a no-fly zone over Libya to NATO, while coalition forces will continue to protect civilian population from attacks by Gaddafi forces, U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said Friday.
"We have agreed along with our NATO allies to transition command and control for the no-fly zone over Libya to NATO," Clinton said.
NATO expects to start the enforcement of the no-fly zone as early as on Monday.
The UN Security Council imposed the no-fly zone over Libya on March 17, along with ordering "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on rebel-held towns.
The military operation in Libya, codenamed Odyssey Dawn, has been conducted so far jointly by 13 states, including the United States, Britain and France.
NATO members decided on Thursday to assume responsibility for the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya, but could not agree on taking full command of all military operations in the country.
Clinton said that NATO was well-suited to play a broader role in the operation, and expressed hope that the allies would soon reach an agreement on the issue.
"All 28 allies have also now authorized military authorities to develop an operations plan for NATO to take on the broader civilian protection mission," she said.
Meanwhile, leaders of the 27 European Union states on Thursday issued a statement saying the EU stood ready to assist in building a new Libya "in cooperation with the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union and others."
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