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Allied Action In Libya, Tuesday Developments

Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Moammar Gadhafi's forces are fired on them outside Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, Tuesday, March 22, 2011. i i

hide captionLibyan rebels retreat as mortars from Moammar Gadhafi's forces are fired on them outside Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

Anja Niedringhaus/AP
Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Moammar Gadhafi's forces are fired on them outside Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Moammar Gadhafi's forces are fired on them outside Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

Anja Niedringhaus/AP

The U.S. military says a American fighter jet developed mechanical problems over Libya today; the crew ejected safely and were rescued as their jet crashed. Allied forces continue airstrikes in Libya, enforcing a no-fly zone to stop fighters loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi. This post will automatically refresh every 30 minutes unless we break in with developments.

Update at 6:51 p.m. ET: We're pausing our live blog here, but we'll be back tomorrow morning to bring you the latest.

Update at 6:22 p.m. ET. Clinton: Gadhafi Might Be Exploring Exile:

In an interview with ABC News, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Col. Moammar Gadhafi may be exploring his options if he were to chose to leave Libya.

Reuters reports on the interview:

"Some of it is theater," Clinton told ABC News in an interview, saying the United States was aware of people reaching out "allegedly on Gaddafi's behalf" to try to assess their options.

"A lot of it is just the way he behaves. It's somewhat unpredictable. But some of it, we think, is exploring. You know, what are my options, where could I go, what could I do. And we would encourage that," she said.

Update at 2:40 p.m. ET. Anti-Aircraft Fire, Explosions Heard In Tripoli:

He can hear explosions and anti-aircraft fire right now in Tripoli, NPR's David Greene is telling our Newscast desk. It isn't known, though, if allied aircraft are actually in the air over the city and if so whether they've fired any missiles. It could be, he says, that Gadhafi's forces are firing into the air just as a show of force and to energize his supporters. Indeed, David says, as the firing is going on many Gadhafi's supporters are in their cars honking horns.

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET. Kerry On The Mission, The Outcome And 'A Delusional Tyrant':

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) told All Things Considered host Melissa Block today that "there should be no confusion here. We're not going into some long-term operation." After three or four days, he said, the U.S. should be able to give control of the military operation to NATO.

And, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee added, "this event is not calculated to get rid of Col Gadhafi. ... The president was clear about that."

"When we bombed in Kosovo," Kerry said, "it was one year between the time we bombed Serbia and the departure of [Slobodan] Milosevic. ... There are many things that could unfold now that will put pressure on Col. Gadhafi. But this military, brief operation is to protect civilians" and to take away Gadhafi's power to strike at those civilians.

Here's that part of their conversation:

Sen. John Kerry

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Sen. John Kerry

Kerry also said that if the U.S. does believe in pluralism and democracy and freedom of choice, we have to accept that it's not up to America to decide who winds up in control of Libya. Revolutions, he said, do get "hijacked." But, he argued, action has to be taken to rid Libya of a "delusional tyrant" who would massacre his people. Here's that part of their conversation:

Sen. John Kerry

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Sen. John Kerry

Much more will be on ATC later today. Click here to find an NPR station that streams or broadcasts the show.

Update at 1:10 p.m. ET. Doctor Who Treated American Flier Says He Suffered Only Minor Injuries:

One of the crew from the U.S. fighter jet "was not shocked, but worried" after being brought by people who oppose Gadhafi to a hotel in Benghazi, says one of the doctors who examined the American.

It took about two hours for the American to relax a bit and being smiling, Dr. Dina Omar told NPR producer Amy Walters, who went to the hotel earlier today. It was then he said "I have to trust you because if your'e with Gadhafi or the other side you're a good actor," Omar quotes the American as saying.

Omar, an Egyptian who has volunteered to treat the injured in eastern Libya, said the American had only slight injuries — mostly a bruise on one leg. And, she says, "he was very professional" and gave away no details about his mission.

Before the American left, Omar adds, some of the people brought him flowers. "They were thanking him" for the actions that allied forces are now taking.

(Correction at 7:30 a.m. ET, March 23: The American was taken to a hotel, not a hospital as this update said earlier. An editing error, not Amy's reporting, caused the mistake.)

Update at 12:20 p.m. ET. No Comment On Reports Of Villagers Being Shot During Rescue Mission:

Asked (via a satellite connection) about a report from Britain's Channel 4, which says that "six villagers in a field on the outskirts of Benghazi were shot and injured when a U.S. helicopter landed to rescue a crew member" from the fighter jet, Adm. Samuel Locklear just said he's not prepared at this time to talk about what the after-action investigation of the rescue mission will reveal.

"Collateral damage" sometimes happens during such missions, Locklear said. But, he added, "the recovery mission from my perspective was executed as I would have expected it to be, given the circumstances."

Locklear is commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa and commander of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn. He spoke from aboard the USS Mount Whitney, which is in the Mediterranean Sea.

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Video Of The Downed Fighter:

Britain's Channel 4 has posted this short video that shows some of the wreckage of the U.S. jet that went down.

Update at 10:55 a.m. ET: Russia Calls For Ceasefire: Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov called on 'all belligerent parties to stop the violence' in Libya. CNN reports he spoke during a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. Attack On Benghazi 'Stopped In Its Tracks,' British Say:

British Maj. Gen. John Lorimer told reporters this morning that the allied efforts have "stopped in its tracks" the Gadhafi regime's attack on the eastern city of Benghazi, which opposition forces control. (From The Guardian's live-blog.)

Update at 9:16 a.m. ET: What Is The U.S. Doing In Libya? Former ambassador John Negroponte tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep it's to protect Libyan civilians. A second goal - removing Col. Moammar Gadhafi - is a political goal that requires other means.

Update at 7:35 a.m. ET: The Telegraph has published three photographs of the F-15E wreckage.

Update at 7:30 a.m. ET: Jet Crew Safe: The second crew member missing from a U.S. fighter jet that crashed overnight in Libya is safe. The Defense Department issued a press release, says the F-15E 'experienced equipment malfunction over northeast Libya and the crew ejected safely.' The jet was based in England and was flying from an Italian air base when the mishap occurred. The U.S. military is investigating.

Update at 7:15 a.m. ET: Is Attacking Libya Constitutional? Some members of Congress aren't sure. NPR's David Welna tells Morning Edition Republicans and Democrats want to debate the merits of armed intervention in Libya. GOP Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., says lawmakers must be on record because this could be a long and extended situation. When asked if the U.S. is at war with Libya, Lugar replied, "I have no idea".

Update at 6:50 a.m. ET: More On Jet Crash: NPR's Rachel Martin reports a Defense Department spokesman confirms the U.S. fighter jet that crashed overnight in Libya was a US F15-E plane. The crash was not due to hostile fire and two crew members ejected safely. Both are alive; one has been safely recovered and there's an operation underway to recover the second crewmember.

Our original post

NPR's Rachel Martin reports an American F-15 or F-16 warplane crashed in Libya today. The Daily Telegraph's Rob Crilley discovered the wreckage and tweeted:

just found a crashed US warplane in a field. believe a mechanical failure brought it down

came down late last night

crew believed safe

Rachel says the plane went down in rebel held territory.

The Wall Street Journal says air space in northern Libya will soon be in Allied control, including Tripoli, now held by Gadhafi forces. NPR's David Greene is in the Libyan capital and says attacks began not long after nightfall. He says there's been fewer bombs but more anti-aircraft fire from the Gadhafi fighters, perhaps just to send a message.

Note: NPR follows Associated Press style when spelling Gadhafi's name. Other media may use different spellings.

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