President Barack Obama and his British and French counterparts are demanding that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi immediately comply with a U.N. Security Council resolution creating a no-fly zone aimed at protecting civilians from attacks.
Obama phoned British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy Thursday evening after the Security Council vote on the resolution authorizing the no-fly zone and “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people from Qaddafi’s forces, the White House said in a statement.Military intervention against Libya may start within “several hours,” French government spokesman Francois Baroin said in an interview on RTL radio, according to a Bloomberg report.
The resolution excluded a “foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.” Russia and China, which hold veto powers, were among the countries that abstained, as did NATO member Germany.
Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy agreed to closely coordinate their next steps and work alongside Arab and other international partners on enforcing the terms of the resolution.
Libyan Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said five Arab nations have agreed to contribute to the no-fly zone, and other officials said those countries include Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The vote came hours after Qaddafi vowed to stamp out the rebellion against his nearly 42-year rule with a final assault against opposition rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi. Earlier Thursday, Libyan jets dropped bombs just outside Benghazi and Qaddafi issued brutal new threats against the rebel holdouts.
“We are coming tonight,” Qaddafi said on state television Thursday. “You will come out from inside. Prepare yourselves from tonight. We will find you in your closets.”