SEARCH

Monday
Mar282011

Libyan Rebels Advance to Sirte as NATO Assumes Command

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Air raids targeting the Libyan city of Sirte Sunday night aided rebels advancing towards the city.  It was also confirmed that NATO will now be assuming the entire mission in the war-torn country, including all air strikes and the civilian protection mission.

Sirte, which is Moammar Gadhafi's hometown, lies halfway between the rebel-held east and the government-controlled west.  Taking the city is a major coup for the rebels, who are quickly advancing toward the capitol city of Tripoli.

Earlier Sunday, rebels regained two key oil complexes along Libya's coastal highway.  Their westward march towards Sirte mirrors their earlier advancement towards the capitol, but this week they had powerful air forces bombarding Gadhafi's military and clearing a path.

Shortly after nightfall, air raids on both Tripoli and Sirte began, Libyan state television confirmed.  Fighting began in the contested city of Misrata -- which lies between Sirte and Tripoli -- as residents reported that pro-Gadhafi forces were firing on residential areas.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that NATO will assume command of all aerial operations in Libya, taking over from the U.S.-led force.

According to a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity, NATO will now assume the entire mission of implementing U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, which demands an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians.

This fulfills President Obama's promise to take the leading edge with America's unique capabilities, then quickly turn over authority to NATO, the official said.

More countries should be contributing assets to the operation, the official said, adding that not every country will have to take part in every aspect of the mission.  While some may contribute to enforcing the arms embargo or the no-fly zone only, others may participate in bombings to protect civilians.

NATO will lead all of it, the official confirmed, stressing that the mission is to strike at anyone who targets civilians, not to support the Libyan rebels.  NATO commanders will have the authority to pick bombing targets and won't have to seek permission from a political body first, the official noted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Three Nuclear Reactors at Japan's Plant May Be Damaged

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Following its apology for mistakenly reporting radiation levels, the power company operating Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant now believes three of the plant's nuclear reactors may be in jeopardy.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company announced Monday that the fuel rods of reactor numbers one, two and three may be damaged.  Yet, the company isn't characterizing the damages as a meltdown because it says there isn't enough evidence.

The latest news comes a day after TEPCO issued an apology for erroneously announcing that radiation levels inside the water in reactor two was 10 million times higher than normal.

The reading raised fears of radioactivity exposure and led to workers fleeing the facility.  It also spurred a demonstration outside of TEPCO's headquarters in Tokyo, where hundreds rallied to protest the company's handling of the nuclear crisis and demonstrate against nuclear power.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

At Least 20 Dead, 50 Wounded After Afghan Suicide Bombing

ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- An attack by three suicide bombers in eastern Afghanistan Sunday night left at least 20 people dead and 50 others wounded, according to Afghan and International Security Assistance Force officials.

The explosion took place at a road construction company in the province of Paktika, near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan.  The suicide bombers attacked the company, shooting the guards before detonating explosives aboard a large truck.

More attacks like the one Sunday night are likely to occur in Afghanistan in the coming weeks as the weather warms up.

The winter season has been relatively mild in the country, so the Taliban's "spring offensive" is expected to slowly ramp up in the next month.  The poppy harvest is late this year -- not until the third week in April, give or take -- so the large springtime push by the Taliban isn't expected to take place until May, after the harvest, when people who make money harvesting poppy can convert themselves into fighters for hire. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Crackdown on Civilians Could Backfire on Syrian Government

AFP/Getty Images(LATAKIA, Syria) -- The government crackdown on protesters in Syria continued over the weekend, with the army sending troops to the port city of Latakia on the Mediterranean to quell an uprising over ten civilian deaths.

Demonstrators accused the Syrian security forces of shooting at them, while the government claimed the civilians died at the hands of random snipers.

Officials from the Syrian president's office maintain that "armed groups" are causing the violence in Latakia, one of the latest cities in the country and where people are demanding democratic reform.

Undeterred by reprisals from the army and security, the calls for change have actually picked up throughout Syria, especially in Deraa along the Jordanian border, which activists consider the epicenter of the protests.

Showing their outrage once more, hundreds of men pulled down a statute of Syria's former leader, Hafez al-Assad, the father of the current president, Bashar Assad.

While the government remains firmly in control, Assad has exhibited some willingness to institute reforms.  As a showing of good faith, the government freed 260 political prisoners Saturday.

Assad and his Baathist regime have never before experienced such a challenge to their rule.  The protests were spurred by similar protests throughout the Arab world since the beginning of the year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Gadhafi Accused of Putting Bodies at Sites of Coalition Attacks

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is alleging that Col. Moammar Gadhafi is trying to make it appear that allied attacks are responsible for civilian deaths in Libya by placing the bodies of people his forces have killed at sites where coalition missiles have struck.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates made that charge Sunday during an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation.

According to Gates, U.S. military officials "have a lot of intelligence reporting about Gadhafi taking the bodies of the people he's killed and putting them at the sites where we've attacked."

The U.S. and its Western allies have bombarded Gadhafi's air defenses and other military sites to create a no-fly zone over Libya that ideally makes it more difficult for his loyalists to retake cities now held by rebel forces.

Hoping to turn worldwide public opinion against the coalition, Gadhafi claims numerous civilians have been killed by the rocket strikes.  However, Gates said, "The truth of the matter is we have trouble coming up with proof of any civilian casualties that we have been responsible for."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Taliban Claims to Have Captured 50 Afghan Policemen

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The Taliban claims to have abducted 50 Afghan policemen in the northeastern part of the country.

It was reported by local officials that a convoy of dozens of unarmed police officers were taken prisoner in Chapa Dara in Kunar province on Saturday.  The men had been returning from another province after collecting their paychecks when they were taken captive by Taliban militants.

It's believed there their lives are in grave danger since their fates will be decided by the Taliban's military council in the area.

However, the last time an incident like this happened, the Taliban released police officers unharmed after the hostages promised not to work for the Afghan government.  This time, there are reports of the group offering to exchange their captives for Taliban prisoners.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Secretary Clinton Promises No Libya-Style Action in Syria

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Syria won't turn into another Libya for the U.S., according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

While the Syrian government is cracking down on pro-democracy protesters, Clinton says it's a different situation from Libya, where Col. Moammar Gadhafi was "calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing" his own cities.

Clinton added that it took action by the entire international community involving a United Nations resolution, and condemnation of Gadhafi by the Arab League, to finally get approval for military action to establish a no-fly zone over Libya.

Doing the same to deal with Syria would be nearly impossible, she suggested.

While the Obama administration finds Syria's police action against demonstrators troubling, Clinton says that there's a need to differentiate between what's going on there and in Libya.

Meanwhile, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman said that if Syria threatens a mass-scale massacre similar to Libya, the international community would be within its rights to conduct another Libya-style operation to protect Syrians.  He added that such action would have the support of the Arab world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar272011

Japanese Power Company Makes Error in Radiation Reading

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A Japanese power company on Sunday found itself apologizing for the second time in two days, with the latest apology coming as a result of a mistake in a report about radiation levels at a nuclear plant.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says it made a mistake when it reported that radiation levels at the plant were 10 million times higher than normal, causing an evacuation of the site. Extremely high radiation levels were reported Sunday, but just a few hours later the same day, TEPCO officials said the radiation level number was not credible and that the company was very sorry for their mistake.

The overstated levels were from a reading done at reactor 2 at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant. According to published reports, the worker who performed the reading evacuated the plant before a second reading could be taken.

On Saturday TEPCO issued an apology for not giving its employees proper warning about the degree of radiation risk they faced at the plant, after two workers suffered radiation burns from water that was 10,000 times more radioactive than normal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar272011

NATO Takes Over Military Operations in Libya

ABC News(BRUSSELS) -- NATO announced on Sunday that its allies plan to take over military operations in Libya under the United Nations Security Council Resolution.

According to a statement by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Allies have decided to take on whole military operation with a goal of protecting civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack from the Gadhafi regime.

“NATO will implement all aspects of the UN Resolution,” said Rasmussen. “Nothing more, nothing less.”

Rasmussen said NATO has put a package of operations together that supports the United Nations Resolution both by sea and air. The release says NATO is already enforcing the arms embargo and no-fly zone in Libya, and Sunday’s decision will see the organization taking further action.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar272011

US Official: NATO's Takover Fulfils President Obama's Promise

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Commenting on NATO’s decision to take over military operations in Libya, a senior U.S. official on Sunday said the move fulfills President Obama’s promise of taking the leading edge with the nation’s unique capabilities and then quickly turning over authority.

On Sunday NATO said that in addition to enforcing the arms embargo and no-fly zone in Libya, its allies would also take over military operations under the United Nations Security Council Resolution.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, the U.S. official said not every NATO member will have to participate in every aspect of the operation. Some members may contribute by enforcing the embargo and no-fly zone, while some may partake in bombing operations aimed at protecting civilians.

The official said no one NATO member can block any action, as military commanders who are implementing the mission will be the decision-makers. The official also says now that NATO is in charge, he expects more members to commit assets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio