French Air Force Jets Have Destroyed Some Tanks And Armored Vehicles In Libya

French warplanes destroy four tanks used by Gaddafi forces as military action to enforce UN-ordered no-fly zone begins.

French warplanes have hit four tanks used by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on the outskirts of the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, on a day when opposition fighters in the city reported coming under constant artillery and mortar fire.

The action marks the first international military move against the Libyan leader, and it comes a day after the UN Security Council authorised a no-fly zone over the North African country.

A spokesman for the French military had confirmed that his country's fighter jets have attacked another vehicle belonging to Gaddafi's forces.

"The vehicle was clearly identified as being enemy," army spokesman Colonel Thierry Burckhard said after the first UN-mandated air strike, describing the target as "a vehicle that was threatening the civilian population".

Earlier on Saturday, pro-government forces had entered the western outskirts of the city, while French Rafale and Mirage fighter jets began reconnaissance overflights of "all Libyan territory".

Ahmad Shabani, a spokesman for the Libyan opposition's national council, told Al Jazeera the opposition was heartened by the move.

"We are very happy about that, hopefully it's not late... and hopefully it makes a difference," he said.

Witnesses in Bengazi, in the east of the country, said they heard large explosions on Saturday. Al Jazeera's correspondents in the city reported multiple explosions, plumes of smoke in the sky and a fighter jet belonging to the opposition getting shot down.

Government troops reportedly bombed the southern Benghazi suburb of Goreshi among other places. Artillery and mortars were also fired in the centre of the city.
Al Jazeera