UN Security Council Approves No-Fly Zone and Military Action in Libya

The UN Security Council has approved a resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and authorize "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from attacks by Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

The vote today was 10-0 with five abstentions, including Russia and China. It needed nine votes to pass, and no veto. The resolution comes with Moammar Gadhafi's forces poised to rout rebels from their last stronghold of Benghazi.

The resolution authorizes member nations “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack” from forces loyal to the Libyan dictator, but rules out allowing an occupying force. The U.N. did not specify when the air patrols over Libyan airspace would begin, or which country would take the lead, but there are several reports that British and French warplanes could strike pro-government positions as soon as Friday.

Moving swiftly in response to a request by Arab nations, the U.N. Security Council on Thursday paved the way for international air strikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces with its vote authorizing military action to protect civilians and a no-fly zone over Libya.