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Arab League Debates No-Fly Zone As Kadhafi Forces Gain Ground in Libya

Published on Sunday 13th March 2011 Arab League Debates No-Fly Zone As Kadhafi Forces Gain Ground in Libya

The Arab League on Saturday came out in support of a no-fly zone over Libya, according to diplomats at crisis talks in the Egyptian capital.

Moamer Kadhafi's air force struck at Libyan rebels as the meeting took place. Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam told Italian newspapers that the army had regained control over "90 per cent of the country".

Two airstrikes aimed at a rebel checkpoint in Uqayla, east of Ras Lanuf, sent insurgents fleeing back down the coastal road towards the next town of Brega.

Rebels in Uqayla said they had pulled out of Ras Lanuf after fierce fighting since government forces loyal to Kadhafi stormed the town on Thursday, while Breag is reported to be a ghost town.

In Cairo opposition member Slimane Mbarek said the insurgents' delegates had handed Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa a letter urging the 22-member bloc "to end the bloodletting through a decision to impose an air-exclusion zone".

They also called on the bloc to recognise the rebels' transitional national council.

Mussa had called for a no-fly zone and said he wants the pan-Arab organisation to play a role in imposing it, in an interview published by Germany's Der Spiegel Saturday.

EU leaders agreed at an emergency summit Friday to talk to Kadhafi's opponents and protect Libyan civilians "by all necessary means" but stopped short of an outright military threat.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said that a mandate from the UN is a condition for the no-fly zone, although President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday seemed to be imply that one could be imposed without the world body's approval.

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