(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out forcefully Wednesday in support of U.S. participation in coalition efforts to protect Libyan civilians.
The operation to neutralize Col. Moammar Gadhafi's air power by establishing a no-fly zone over Libya has been getting more negative reviews than positive lately from U.S. lawmakers, as well as countries not involved in the limited international offensive labeled Operation Odyssey Dawn. Critics say the mission is ill-defined and ultimately meaningless if Gadhafi remains in power.
However, Clinton insisted, "Many, many Libyans are safer today because the international community took action," which was the primary goal of the United Nations Security Council resolution approved one week ago.
The former first lady reiterated the Obama administration's call for Gadhafi to relinquish his four-decade-long leadership of Libya.
Meanwhile in Cairo, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged that even as the U.S. prepares to hand off the lead role in the offensive to its allies within days, attacks against Gadhafi's military forces could continue indefinitely.
Gates also admitted that the coalition has been unable to get an accurate assessment of the strength of rebel forces opposed to Gadhafi's rule, which makes predicting how long the mission will take an even more difficult task.
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