A Libyan jet bomber crashes after being shot down in Benghazi . Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty
A Libyan jet bomber crashes after being shot down in Benghazi . Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty

The U.S. and its allies began taking military action Saturday morning against Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi and his forces. French fighter jets began patrolling the no-fly zone Saturday morning, and the U.S. began firing missiles this afternoon against Gadhafi’s forces. Earlier in the day pro-Gadhafi forces attacked the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, despite agreeing to a ceasefire.

In a statement in the afternoon Gadhafi called for Libyans to arm for “revolution.” He also said that he will “open the arms depots to defend Libya, its unity and sovereignty and might,” and that the interests of Mediterranean countries will be in danger.

Libyan state television reported that the bombings have injured civilians in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata. NPR and BBC reporters have been unable to confirm the injuries.

During a briefing the Pentagon said that the UAE and Qatar will join the military actions, but will announce it themselves. Currently, the operation is under the command of the U.S. African Command, under General Carter Hamm.

WHO, WHAT, WHERE

The BBC has a handy map explaining what forces are where.

Al Jazeera reports that off the coast of Libya there are 11 vessels from Italy, 11 from the U.S. (including three submarines, each with 100 missiles on board), one from the UK, one from France and one from Canada.

The U.S. has struck more than 20 air-defense system targets, communications and missile sites, according to Vice Admiral William Gortney, the Director of the U.S. Joint Staff. The UK and U.S. have fired more than 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles in the first wave of the coalition’s assault.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that while the U.S. is going to contribute, it will not commit ground troops to any military actions against Libya. President Obama reiterated the same thing at a speech he gave from Brazil.

“Our air force will oppose any aggression by Col. Gadhafi against the population of Benghazi,” French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced early this morning. French warplanes destroyed four tanks used by Gadhafi this afternoon.

MORE ON THE WEB

U.S. Launches Missile Strikes On Libya (NPR)

Why is US backing force in Libya but not Bahrain, Yemen? (BBC)

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Aircraft Guide (BBC)

Political Unrest Worries Counterterrorism Officials (NPR)

Photos From Libya (CNN)

A Guide to Protests in the Middle East, Africa (NPR)

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