WASHINGTON – U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses Saturday and a senior American defense official said it was believed substantial damage was inflicted.
In the strikes, 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya’s air force.
While U.S. defense officials cautioned that it was too early to fully gauge the impact of the onslaught, the official said that given the precision targeting of the Navy’s cruise missiles, they felt that Libya’s air defenses suffered a good deal of damage.
The official spoke on grounds of anonymity because the ongoing mission.
In announcing the mission during a visit to Brazil, President Barack Obama said he was reluctant to resort to force but was convinced it was necessary to save the lives of civilians. He reiterated that he would not send American ground troops to Libya.
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