Libya: United Nations backs N0-Fly Zone at last

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After days of backroom negotiations and footdragging, the UN Security Council at last backed a resolution on Libya that supports a no-fly zone and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, the BBC website reported Thursday night.

At its meeting in New York, the 15-member body agreed "to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack".

It also supported a no-fly zone to help halt the advance of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

Reports suggest air strikes may begin within hours of the resolution passing.

The US, UK and France proposed the council resolution, backing action short of an invasion. It passed 10-0 with five abstentions.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, introducing the resolution, said: "In Libya, for a number of weeks the people's will has been shot down... by Colonel Gaddafi who is attacking his own people.

"We cannot let these warmongers do this, we cannot abandon civilians."

He added: "We should not arrive too late."
Russia and China - which often oppose the use of force against a sovereign country as they believe it sets a dangerous precedent - abstained rather than using their power of veto.

Earlier reports suggested that if the resolution was passed, air attacks on Col Gaddafi's forces by the British and French air forces could begin within hours.