(AFP) – Mar 29, 2011
WASHINGTON — Enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya required four sorties by NATO aircraft in the past 24 hours, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
As of 1000 GMT, NATO carried out four flights to police the no-fly zone against the Libyan regime, along with four other sorties in support of the mission, according to information released by the Pentagon.
The figures followed comments from US and allied commanders that the regime's air defenses have been knocked out in earlier coalition raids, with Moamer Kadhafi's aircraft effectively shut down under a no-fly zone now firmly in place.
The four no-fly zone sorties were flown by Canada and Spain, using F-18 fighter jets, said a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
NATO is due on Thursday to take over from the US military the command of the coalition air campaign, launched under a UN resolution to protect civilians.
As part of "Operation Odyssey Dawn," the US military also launched 22 Tomahawk cruise missiles in the past 24 hours, bringing to 214 the total number of missile strikes since the operation began on March 19, the Pentagon said.
The Tomahawks targeted "storage facilities" for the Libyan regime's Scud missiles, the defense official said.
The international coalition carried out a total of 200 sorties in the past 24 hours, with about 60 percent of the missions flown by the American military.
During the same period, the international coalition carried out 115 strike sorties, in which combat aircraft sought out targets in Moamer Kadhafi's armed forces.
Since the air operation began on March 19, the coalition has carried out 1,802 sorties.
President Barack Obama's administration has said it will soon play more of a supporting role in the air campaign.
The number of "strike" missions by US aircraft has declined slightly in recent days.
In the past 24 hours, the United States conducted 52 sorties, about 45 percent of all the strike flights, compared to 63 percent flown by other countries.
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