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US warning as Libya calls ceasefire

Libya has declared an immediate ceasefire after the UN authorised a no-fly zone and "all necessary measures" to prevent the regime from attacking its own people.

But a rebel spokesman said Muammar Gaddafi's forces were still shelling two cities.

The United States said a ceasefire announcement was insufficient, calling on the regime to pull back from eastern Libya where the rebels found themselves facing rockets, artillery, tanks and warplanes.

Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebels, said attacks continued well past the announcement, which came after a fierce government attack on Misrata, the last rebel-held city in the western half of the country. A doctor said at least six people died.

The UN Security Council resolution, which passed late on Thursday, set the stage for air strikes, a no-fly zone and other military measures short of a ground invasion.

Britain announced that it would send fighter jets, Italy offered the use of its bases, and France made plans to deploy planes. The US, which has an array of naval and air forces in the region, has yet to announce its role.

With the international community mobilising, Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa said the government would cease fire in line with the resolution, although he criticised the authorisation of international military action, calling it a violation of Libya's sovereignty.

"The government is opening channels for true, serious dialogue with all parties," he said during a news conference in Tripoli.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the first goal of international action was to end the violence in Libya and protect civilians. She said government forces, which have advanced along the Mediterranean coast in recent days, must pull "a significant distance away from the east".

A large crowd in Benghazi, the city where the uprising started on February 15, watched the UN vote on an outdoor TV projection and burst into cheers, with green and red fireworks exploding overhead. In Tobruk, another eastern city, happy Libyans fired weapons in the air to celebrate.


From Belfast Telegraph