US will not put ground forces in Libya, says Obama

IANS/RIA Novosti,

Washington: US President Barack Obama announced Saturday that the US will not deploy any ground forces in Libya.

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“As I pledged at the outset, the role of American forces has been limited. We are not putting any ground forces into Libya,” Obama said in a radio address.

Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said earlier Saturday that any foreign military ground operations in Libya will be considered as occupying the country.

“Holding (military) ground operations will be qualified as occupying Libya and that directly contradicts the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council,” Rogozin told RIA Novosti.

The UN Security Council imposed a no-fly zone over Libya March 17, also permitting “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s attacks on rebel-held towns.

The operation to enforce the no-fly zone, codenamed Odyssey Dawn, is being conducted jointly by 13 states, including the US, Britain and France.

Though the US helped in the initial command of implementing a no-fly zone over Libya, it has been pressing to turn the command duties over to NATO.

“Our military mission in Libya is clear and focused. Along with our allies and partners, we’re enforcing the mandate of the United Nations Security Council. We’re protecting the Libyan people from Gaddafi’s forces. And we’ve put in place a no-fly zone and other measures to prevent further atrocities,” Obama said.

Western warplanes have flown more than 300 sorties over the North African country and fired 162 Tomahawk missiles in the UN-mandated mission. Libyan state media outlets have reported that dozens of people have been killed by the airstrikes.