US-led coalition forces have asked Gaddafi forces in Libya to declare cease-fire or risk attack from international partners, a top Pentagon official has said.
"Our message to the regime troops is simple: stop fighting, stop killing your own people, stop obeying the orders of Colonel Gaddafi," Director, Joint Staff Vice Admiral Bill Gortney told Pentagon reporters at a news conference.
"To the degree that you defy these demands, we will continue to hit you and make it more difficult for you to keep going," he said. Giving details of military operation in Libya, Gortney said coalition forces continue to strike the regime's integrated air defence capabilities as well as command-and-control facilities, logistics nodes and ammunition supplies.
"We are vigorously planning to enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance by interested governments and non-governmental agencies," Gortney said. "And we will continue to conduct coordinated attacks on regime ground forces that threaten the lives of the Libyan people," he said.
"And let me be clear because I think there's still some confusion out there: when and where regime forces threaten the lives of their own citizens, they will be attacked," Gortney asserted.
As many as 10 countries are currently participating in the 'no-fly' zone. These are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Qatar and the US.
In the last 24 hours ships and subs at sea have launched another 14 Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets ashore and hitting an integrated air defence site near Sebha in the south and a Scud missile garrison near Tripoli, he said. "We flew a total of 130 coalition sorties, 49 of which were strike-related, meaning they were designed to hit a designated target," he said.
"Of those total sorties, roughly half were flown by pilots from partner nations. In fact, nearly all, some 75 per cent of the combat air patrol missions in support of the no-fly zone, are now being executed by our coalition partners," Gortney said.
"More than 350 aircraft are involved in some capacity, either enforcing the 'no-fly' zone or protecting the civilian populace," he said. Gortney said the coalition military operations have rendered the Libyan air and defence forces ineffective and forced the regime to withdraw from Benghazi to Adjabiya. "That said, regime operations in and around Misurata and Zentan have not halted," he said.
"We will continue to apply the pressure we can through strikes on their logistics, command, communication and weapons capabilities to compel them to stop killing their own people." The US forces are not in military to military communication with the opposition forces on the ground, he said in response to a question adding that it might be happening on the diplomatic front.