(WASHINGTON) -- Military officials at the Pentagon have confirmed that the first strike by an unmanned Predator drone was launched in Libya on Saturday.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Darryn James said in a statement that the first Predator strike occurred early Saturday afternoon Libya time. Officials said per common practice, no additional details would be provided about the strike.
On Thursday President Obama gave approval for two armed American Predator drones to operate over Libya, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The U.S. has flown armed drones in Libya for the past several weeks, but they have been used only for surveillance. They will now be used to strike Gadhafi's forces as part of the civilian protection mission.
British, French and Italian forces have already agreed to step up their efforts to aid the rebels.
The use of drones is significant, too, because it marks the United States' return to using force for civilian protection mission for the first time since shortly after the U.S. handed full authority of the mission over to NATO last month. Bombing drops by U.S. planes that have taken place since then were only to take out Gadhafi's air defenses for the separate no-fly zone enforcement mission.
American forces are helping to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, aiding rebel forces struggling against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
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