French President Nicholas Sarkozy says French Rafaeles began blocking the Libyan Air Force from attacking the rebel capital of Benghazi and enforcing a country-wide no fly zone late Saturday afternoon Tripoli time. He said they were ready to intervene against tanks as well.
This morning Gaddafi’s tanks entered Benghazi this morning, ignoring the threat of NATO air strikes if they did not pull back from four Libyan cities they were threatening.
People were fleeing the city as it appeared the U.N.-backed forces had taken too long to get their planes into the air.
On Friday U.S. President Obama told Gaddafi to pull his troops back or face attack. Instead the Libyan strongman attacked, the BBC and others reported. A BBC reporter saw Libyan tanks inside the eastern city. Reuters confirmed Gaddafi’s forces were attacking the city. A Libyan warplane was shot down.
Even for Gaddafi the audacity of this attack was a surprise. The International Committee of the Red Cross had announced it was sending its team back into the eastern city because it now appeared safe. They had been pulled out two days earlier, moved to Tobruk near the Egyptian border.
So far, NATO and its allies have done nothing. France said after a meeting today attacks likely would be launched. Russia said it was concerned about the safety of diplomats in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
“Gaddafi is not a stupid man, It’s a tactic that’s been used by other powerful military conquerors in the recent past, including Paul Kagame in Rwanda and Museveni in Uganda.
They sue for peace, on the one hand, and at the same time advance their military time quest, on the other,” said Keith Harmon Snow, who investigated the Rwanda massacres. He spoke with Russian Television. Agencies