In this post: The latest news on the conflict in Libya, where forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi continue to attack positions held by the opposition even as an international military campaign aimed at stopping the Libyan leader's attacks continues. (This post will automatically refresh every 30 minutes — or sooner if we update it in between):
Update at 7:03 p.m. ET. We are going to pause the live blog here, but we'll be back tomorrow morning with the latest.
Update at 6:52 p.m. ET. The Narrative Of Economic Sanctions:
We'll step back a moment from what's going on right now to look a bit at the economic sanctions the U.S. put into place in February. The Washington Post has a piece that details how it all happened, but perhaps most stunning: The U.S. Treasury thought they could freeze about $100 million of Gadhafi's assets. The total ended up being about $29.7 billion. The piece goes on to talk about how freezing assets has become a weapon:
The frenetic 72 hours leading up to the Executive Order 13566 illustrate how a process of identifying and freezing assets — something that customarily has taken weeks or months — has become one of the first tactical tools to employ in the midst of fast-breaking crises.
It also shows that government officials have learned from other recent economic sanction efforts, including against Iran and North Korea. Instead of being a secondary measure, as in the past, economic sanctions have become a centerpiece of national security policy.
The same global electronic networks that dictators use to move billions in state assets can also be turned against them, when government and financial industry officials summon the will.
Update at 6:41 p.m. ET. Gadhafi Forces Have Retreated From Misrata:
The Guardian reports that after 12-hours of attack from allied forces, Gadhafi forces pulled out from the rebel-held city of Misrata:
Residents said yesterday that the aerial bombardment destroyed tanks and artillery and sent many of Muammar Gaddafi's forces fleeing from Misrata, ending a siege and attack by the regime that cost nearly 100 lives from random shelling, snipers and bitter street fighting.
Update at 3:25 p.m. ET. U.N. Secretary-General Condemns Gadhafi's Use Of Force:
The U.N. just released this statement from the office of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
"The Secretary-General condemns the continued use of force in the western part of Libya, including Zintan and Misrata. Once again, he reiterates his call for an immediate end to violence by all parties, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, and for the responsibility to protect civilians. All those who violate international humanitarian and human rights law will be held fully accountable."
Update at 11:40 a.m. ET. Gadhafi's Air Force 'No Longer Exists,' British Commander Says:
"The commander of British aircraft operating over Libya has said that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's air force 'no longer exists as a fighting force.' Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell said the allies could now operate 'with near impunity' over the skies of Libya," the BBC reports.
Update at 9:45 a.m. ET. Allies Target Gadhafi Forces Near Misrata:
According to the BBC, "international forces have launched new air strikes near Libya's rebel-held western city of Misrata, witnesses say. Forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi initially pulled back, but Misrata residents say snipers have continued to target people from rooftops."
Update at 8:40 a.m. ET. Gadhafi Allies Looking For Ways Out?
"People close to Libya's embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi are reaching out to allies around the world exploring their 'options,' Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC News' Diane Sawyer [Tuesday], and the U.S. government has gotten unconfirmed reports that at least one of Gadhafi's sons has been killed."
Update at 8:25 a.m. ET. Gadhafi's Tanks Pull Back From Misrata:
"International airstrikes forced Moammar Gadhafi's forces to withdraw tanks that were besieging a rebel-held western city Wednesday, residents [in Misrata] said, while people fleeing a strategic city in the east [Ajdabiya] said the situation was deteriorating amid relentless shelling," The Associated Press reports.
Our Original Post:
— "Moammar Gadhafi's snipers and tanks reportedly were attacking civilians in the coastal city of Misurata, a resident said, and the U.S. military warned it was 'considering all options' in response to dire conditions there that have left people cowering in darkened homes and scrounging for food and rainwater. ...
" Gadhafi's forces [also] intensified the shelling of rebel positions outside [the] strategic eastern city [of Ajdabiya] Wednesday as they fought to prevent the opposition from taking advantage of the 5-day-old international air campaign to regroup in the east. (The Associated Press)
— "Pro-Gadhafi forces" are again bombing the opposition-held city of Zintan, a resident there says. (Reuters)
— "Western warplanes launched air strikes on Muammar Gaddafi's artillery and tanks besieging rebel-held Misrata in western Libya on Wednesday after a U.S. admiral warned his armour was the next target." (Reuters)
— Gadhafi, in what Libyan TV said was a live address, told supporters that "in the short term, we'll beat them; in the long term, we'll beat them." According to the translation on a video posted by The Guardian, he also declared that the allied military campaign is "a new crusade, a crusade against Islam!" and that "I am defiant! My home is here! I am here! I am here! I am here!":
— Some people in Tripoli are beginning to criticize Gadhafi, despite the threat that his security forces might come after them, NPR's David Greene reported on Morning Edition.
David Greene, from Tripoli
Note: NPR follows Associated Press style on the spelling of Gadhafi's name. Other news organizations used different spellings.