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Allies hail Libya mission's success

Allied nations have declared themselves satisfied with the first day of military strikes on Libya, which they said had curtailed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's ability to attack rebel cities and effectively imposed a no-fly zone over the country.

A barrage of 112 Tomahawk missiles fired at Libya's air defences by US warships and a British submarine in the Mediterranean was followed on Sunday morning by a pre-dawn raid involving RAF Tornados and American B-2 stealth bombers.

The Ministry of Defence said it was "entirely comfortable" with the success of the attacks, which had struck "high-value targets" in capital Tripoli and other parts of Libya.

And the chief of the US armed forces, Admiral Mike Mullen, said that Gaddafi was no longer able to deploy helicopters and aircraft, meaning that "effectively the no-fly zone has been put in place".

Reports suggested that Arab nations Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were preparing to send planes to patrol Libyan skies.

But there were signs of unease in the Arab world over the scale and nature of the attacks, which also included direct air-strikes by French Mirage and Rafale jets on Gaddafi's tanks outside Benghazi.

The Arab League's Secretary General Amr Mussa appeared to suggest allied forces had gone beyond the measures to protect civilians called for by his organisation last weekend and authorised by Thursday's United Nations resolution.

"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone," Mr Mussa was reported as saying. "What we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians."

Meanwhile, Russia - which abstained in Thursday's Security Council vote - called on all involved in the Libyan conflict "to halt the indiscriminate use of force".

And Pope Benedict XVI used his regular Sunday blessing in the Vatican City to appeal "to those who have the political and military responsibility to take to heart the safety and security of citizens".

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