(WASHINGTON) -- A group of Libyan-American leaders expressed appreciation Thursday to the United States government and the international community for launching airstrikes against Libyan forces.
“We as Libyan-Americans and Libyans are very appreciative of not just what the international community has done, but what the United States has done what other partners, Arab Countries, as well as Europeans (have done),” the president of the American Libyan Council Fadel Lamen told reporters at the National Press Club.
The group showered President Obama with praise for his decision to involve the U.S. military in enforcing UN Resolution 1973, saying the president's decision saved lives.
“We strongly support President Obama’s stance on the Libya crisis,” said Esam Omeish, director of the Libyan Emergency Task Force. "His actions have saved thousands of lives in Benghazi and elsewhere."
Omeish added that the Libyan-American community is "eternally grateful for the timely and swift response and intervention of the international community."
The group said they've received numerous reports in Washington from Libyan citizens about Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's use of violence against Libyan rebels and protesters.
"Calls have come to us this morning from the city of Masrata still talking about the grave conditions that people face," Omeish told reporters.
He and the other speakers at the news conference tried to connect the Libyans struggle to the American revolution. "The recent events in Libya is an epic tale of a people rising against tyranny and dictatorship and it’s very inherently an American story that we as Libyan Americans and all Americans relate to -- of people yearning for their freedom and justice," said Omeish.
Former Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali called on the United States to recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council and the new provisional government. He said any resolution to the crisis other than Gadhafi leaving the country is completely unacceptable.
"There’s no compromise. No negotiation at all. Gadhafi must go. There is no way that we will be able to make a change if Gadhafi is still around," said Aujali.
He added, "The only way to protect the Libyan civilian is that Gadhafi is not there anymore. If Gadhafi is there, believe me the danger is there."
The group said the rebel fighters in Libya are looking for logistical support and training not coalition soldiers on the ground to help with the fighting. But, former Ambassador Aujali did acknowledge that if the situation worsened, ground troops might be acceptable.
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