(AFP) – Mar 25, 2011
WASHINGTON — The United States fired 16 new Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libyan targets on Thursday and Friday as part of the US role in the UN-mandated mission to protect Libyan civilians, the Pentagon said.
The new missile launches brought the total number of Tomahawks used by US and coalition forces to at least 170 as they enforce a UN resolution to set up a no-fly zone over Libya to stop air attacks by the forces of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.
Pentagon officials said 16 new missiles were fired in the 24 hours to 0500 GMT Friday by US warships and submarines. The missiles are aiming to take out Kadhafi's anti-aircraft and artillery positions.
In the nearby seas, submarines including the USS Providence, USS Florida and the USS Scranton are patrolling alongside the destroyers USS Stout and USS Barry.
The number of Tomahawk missiles used in Libya has started to approach the number used in the 1991 Gulf War, the first conflict in which they were deployed. In that conflict, some 297 missiles were used.
During the same 24-hour period coalition warplanes carried out 153 sorties, officials said, including 67 by US forces.
Washington has said it hopes to turn over command of all Libya operations to NATO while maintaining a support role.
NATO has so far agreed to take control of enforcing the no-fly zone, and is considering whether to broaden its role to take over all military operations from the US-led coalition.
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