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Any attempts to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya would have to take the country's air force into account. The pilots of these two Libyan Air Force jets landed in Malta on Monday, Feb. 21, after the pilots were ordered to fire on anti-government protesters. (AP)

No-Fly Zone In Libya Would Mean U.S. Airstrikes, Gates Says

Mar 2, 2011

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Officials from the U.S., NATO, the U.N. and Britain have discussed the idea of a no-fly zone in Libya since late last week. But top Obama administration officials say that creating a no-fly zone in the country could have serious consequences for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

That's largely because establishing a no-fly zone would require multiple attacks on Libya's air defense and anti-aircraft installations.

Rachel Martin reports for Newscast:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a House congressional committee that if the Obama administration orders the creation of a no-fly zone over Libyan air space, the U.S. military can make that happen. But he said it would be a serious undertaking.

"A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses and then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that's the way it starts," Gates said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also weighed in on a possible no fly zone - saying that the US is "a long way from making that decision."

Gates also told the panel that at least two U.S. aircraft carriers would need to be in the region to support such an operation.

Libya used military jets to attack rebel positions Wednesday — including strikes by several warplanes on the port city of Brega. As NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports, "We've seen ... huge plumes of smoke rising into the air over the town of Brega, jets roaring overhead."

The push made it seem that Gadhafi is "pulling out all the stops" to regain eastern territories seized by anti-government groups, according to Garcia-Navarro.

The Pentagon is moving several ships into the Mediterranean, as U.S. officials seek to pressure Moammar Gadhafi into stepping down from power.

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