Libya Rebels Celebrate U.N. Approval Of No-Fly Zone

Jubilant Libyan rebels in Benghazi erupted with fireworks and gunfire after the U.N. Security Council voted Thursday evening to impose a no-fly zone and permit "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

The opposition, with devoted but largely untrained and under-equipped units, has suffered military setbacks this week. It has said such international action was necessary for it to have any chance of thwarting Moammar Gadhafi's imminent assault on the rebel stronghold.

"We're hoping and praying that the United Nations will come up with a very firm and very fast resolution and they will enforce it immediately," said Ahmed El-Gallal, a senior opposition coordinator, before the vote.

The resolution was approved with 10 votes, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom.

There were no opposing votes on the 15-member council, but China, Russia, Germany, India and Brazil abstained. Germany said it was concerned about a protracted military conflict.

U.N. member states can "take all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force," according to the resolution.

Moments after the vote, anti-Gadhafi forces in Benghazi broke into cheers, waving flags and chanting. Antiaircraft tracer fire lit up the sky at one rally.

It was not immediately clear just how an international military operation and possible strikes against the Libyan military might unfold. The no-fly zone prohibits Libya's air forces from entering certain zones within the country.

The United States and NATO partners have contingencies in place to act within hours, according to an administration official familiar with planning. President Barack Obama will insist on a major Arab role in any no-fly zone, the official said.
CNN