Sat March 19, 2011
The Two-Way

Live Blog: Crisis In Libya; Saturday's Developments

There could be military strikes at any time as nations, including the U.S. and its NATO allies and members of the Arab League, join to stop Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi and forces loyal to him from further attacks on those Libyans who are trying to topple his regime.

We're following today's developments in this post. It will refresh every 30 minutes, or sooner if we add updates in between. NPR.org's coverage is collected here.

Update at 9:45 a.m. ET. More On The Timing Of Strikes:

If the U.S., U.K., France and other allies do conduct air strikes against Gadhafi's forces and defenses shortly after wrapping up their emergency meeting now underway in Paris, then those actions might happen within the next couple hours.

The BBC says that:

"BBC political correspondent Carol Walker said she expected the Paris summit to continue until around 1430 GMT."

That's 10:30 a.m. ET.

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET. Air Strikes Could Quickly Follow Talks In Paris, Reuters Reports:

"World powers meeting in Paris on Saturday to discuss a coordinated intervention in Libya could launch air strikes as soon as the talks end, a source close to the discussions said," Reuters just reported. It adds that "the source said that France, Britain and Canada could take part jointly in an initial intervention. The United States could participate later on and any participation by Arab nations would come after that, he said."

Update at 8:07 a.m. ET. Whose Fighter?

NPR's Eric Westervelt, and reporters from CNN, Sky News and other outlets, are reporting that opposition leaders say the fighter jet shot down over Benghazi earlier today was being flown by the rebels — not forces loyal to Gadhafi.

8:05 a.m. ET. Gadhafi Says U.S. And Its Allies Will 'Regret' Any Military Action:

In a letter to President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Gadhafi says that "Libya is not yours. Libya is for the Libyans. The Security Council resolution is invalid" and that "you will regret it if you dare to intervene in our country."

Gadhafi says to Obama, The Associated Press says, that "If you had found them taking over American cities with armed force, tell me what you would do."

7:45 a.m. ET. Gadhafi's Forces Enter Benghazi:

Reuters is among several news outlets reporting that Gadhafi's fighters have entered the eastern port city of Benghazi. Here's how the news service's latest story begins:

"Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces pushed into the rebel-held city of Benghazi on Saturday, defying world demands for an immediate ceasefire and forcing rebels to retreat.

"The advance into Libya's second city of 670,000 people appeared to be an attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention which diplomats say will come only after an international meeting in Paris on Saturday."

Reminder: NPR's Andy Carvin (@acarvin) continues to monitor what's being reported on Twitter about events in Libya and other North African and Middle Eastern countries.

Note: NPR follows Associated Press style on the spelling of Gadhafi's name. Other news organizations use different spellings.

7:20 a.m. ET. Video Shows Plane Shot Down Near Benghazi:

This Associated Press video shows a fighter jet that appears to have been hit by anti-aircraft fire over the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, which is held by opposition forces. You can see it burst into flames, plunge to the ground, and a cloud of smoke that then rises.

NPR's David Greene, who is in Tripoli, says that "if indeed it did belong to the Libyan government," the plane's presence would be another sign that Gadhafi's government is in "open-defiance of the world right now" because the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military action demands that Gadhafi cease fire immediately.

7 a.m. ET. Regime Claims There's A Cease Fire; Witnesses Say Otherwise:

From the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk, NPR's Eric Westervelt reports that:

"In Tripoli, Gadhafi government officials continue to insist there's a ceasefire in effect and that the regime's warplanes have been grounded.

"But that's not what's happening on the ground, according to witnesses and news dispatches. Witnesses in Benghazi says artillery and mortar fire has struck the city and an explosion was reported near the rebel headquarters there.

"Witnesses and aid groups report an increase in the number of civilians trying to flee the city.

"In a strongly worded joint statement to Gadhafi late Friday the U.S., Britain and France backed by unspecified Arab countries insisted a real cease-fire, a government retreat and other steps must begin 'immediately' or Gadhafi will be forced to comply through military means."

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