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Posts Tagged ‘France’

Libyan Airspace ‘Under Control’ As Two Sides Meet

Huffpost- First Posted: 03/25/11 08:48 AM Updated: 03/25/11 08:48 AM

BENGHAZI, Libya — France declared Libya’s airspace “under control” on Friday, after NATO agreed to take command of the no-fly zone in a compromise that appeared to set up dual command centers and possibly new confusion. Coalition warplanes struck Moammar Gadhafi’s forces outside the strategic eastern gateway city of Ajdabiya.

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Representatives for the regime and the rebels were expected to meet formally for the first time Friday, in Ethiopia, in what the U.N. described as a part of an effort to reach a cease-fire and political solution.

The overnight French and British strikes on an artillery battery and armored vehicles were intended to give a measure of relief to Ajdabiya, where residents have fled or cowered under more than a week of shelling and fighting between rebels and government troops. Explosions also could be heard in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, before daybreak Friday, apparently from airstrikes.

“Libyan airspace is under control, and we proved it yesterday, because a Libyan plane in the hands of pro-Gadhafi forces, which had just taken off from Misrata in order to bomb Misrata, was destroyed by a French Rafale,” Adm. Edouard Guillaud said on France-Info radio.

But the compromise that puts NATO in charge of clearing the skies still leaves the U.S. responsible for the more difficult task of planning attacks on Gadhafi’s ground forces and other targets.

Ajdabiya has been under siege for more than a week, with the rebels holding the city center and scattered checkpoints but facing relentless shelling from government troops on the outskirts. Residents are without electicity or drinking water, and many have fled.

The U.S. military said coalition jets flew about 150 on Thursday, about 70 of them with American planes.

“The operation is still focusing on tanks, combat vehicles, air defense targets – really whatever equipment and personnel are threatening the no-fly zone or civilians on the ground in such locations as Ajdabiya and along some other areas on the coast,” Marine Corps Capt. Clint Gebke told reporters from aboard the USS Mount Whitney.

The U.S. has been trying to give up the lead role in the operation against Gadhafi’s forces, and NATO agreed late Thursday to assume one element of it – control of the no-fly zone.

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Libya Military Intervention Could Last ‘Awhile,’ Top French Official Says

AP/The Huffington Post By RYAN LUCAS and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI  Posted: 03/21/11 08:46 AM

ZEITOUNIYA, Libya — The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last “awhile,” a top French official said Monday, echoing Moammar Gadhafi’s warning of a long war ahead as rebels said they were fighting to reclaim a city under the Libyan leader’s control.

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Burned-out tanks and personnel carriers littered one of the main desert roads leading from the Libyan capital. A power station hit by a shell on Thursday was still burning, its blackened fuel tank crumpled, with flames and black smoke pouring out.

Oil prices held above $102 a barrel after the second night of allied strikes in the OPEC nation raised fears of prolonged fighting that has already slowed Libyan oil production to a trickle.

Henri Guaino, a top adviser to the French president, said two nights of bombing runs and missile attacks had hobbled Libya’s air defenses, stalled Gadhafi’s troops and all but ended attacks on civilians. A cruise missile late Sunday blasted Gadhafi’s residential compound near his iconic tent, and fighter jets destroyed a line of tanks moving on the rebel capital.

It was not known where Gadhafi was when the missile hit Sunday, but it seemed to show that he is not safe.

Guaino, asked how long the allied efforts would continue, replied simply: “Awhile yet.”

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Ash may hover for days over uncertain Europe

SYLVIA HUI and ANGELA CHARLTON | 04/17/10 10:25 PM | AP

PARIS — The Icelandic volcano that has kept much of Europe land-bound is far from finished spitting out its grit, and offered up new mini-eruptions Saturday that raise concerns about longer-term damage to world air travel and trade.

Facing days to come under the volcano’s unpredictable, ashy plume, Europeans are looking at temporary airport layoffs and getting creative with flight patterns to try to weather this extraordinary event.

Modern Europe has never seen such a travel disruption. Air space across a swath from Britain to Ukraine was closed and set to stay that way until Sunday or Monday in some countries, affecting airports from New Zealand to San Francisco. Millions of passengers have had plans foiled or delayed.

Activity in the volcano at the heart of this increased early Saturday, and showed no sign of abating.

“There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight,” Icelandic geologist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson told The Associated Press on Saturday. “The activity has been quite vigorous overnight, causing the eruption column to grow.”

Scientists say that because the volcano is situated below a glacial ice cap, the magma is being cooled quickly, causing explosions and plumes of grit that can be catastrophic to plane engines, depending on prevailing winds.

In Iceland, winds dragged the ashes over new farmland, to the southwest of the glacier, causing farmers to scramble to secure their cattle and board up windows.

With the sky blackened out and the wind driving a fine, sticky dust, dairy farmer Berglind Hilmarsdottir teamed up with neighbors to round her animals and get them to shelter. The ash is toxic – the fluoride causes long-term bone damage that makes teeth fall out and bones break.

“This is bad. There are no words for it,” said Hilmarsdottir, whose pastures near the town of Skogar were already covered in a gray paste of ash.

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President Nicolas Sarkozy has used a major policy speech to declare the burqa was “not welcome” in France and should be banned

A woman wearing a traditional burqa Photo: REUTERS

A woman wearing a traditional burqa Photo: REUTERS

Peter Allen in Paris | Telegraph.com |  22  June 2009

In comments which will reignite the debate about religious clothing in the country, he said the full-body garment was “not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience”.

Mr Sarkozy used the first presidential address to a joint session of France’s two houses of parliament in 136 years to declare his support for a ban, even before hearing from a parliamentary commission set up to study the issue.

“We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity,” Mr Sarkozy told the special session in Versailles.

“That is not the idea that the French republic has of women’s dignity.

“The burqa is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic,” the French president said.

A group of 58 MPs from the Left and Right has called on Parliament to take action against women adopting what they called oppressive head-to-toe Islamic dress that “breaches individual freedoms”.

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