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Obama: Libya Mission Succeeding, Saved Civilians

U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday the international mission in Libya was clear and focused and succeeding and had saved countless innocents from a "bloodbath" threatened by Moammar Gadhafi.

Under increasing pressure to explain his strategy to Americans, Obama gave his most detailed review of the conflict so far, and insisted American national interests were behind his decision to order U.S. forces into U.N.-mandated combat.

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French Fighter Reportedly Downs Gadhafi Warplane

A French fighter jet destroyed a Gadhafi regime warplane on Thursday, apparently as it was landing in the Libyan city of Misrata, a U.S. official said.

If confirmed, the incident would be the first shoot-down of a Libyan fighter since Western powers launched missiles and air strikes Saturday under a U.N. resolution approving a "no-fly" zone aimed at shielding civilians from attacks by forces loyal to strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

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Coalition Air Raid on Gadhafi Stronghold Sebha

The international coalition carried out an intensive air raid overnight on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's southern stronghold of Sebha, a local resident told Agence France Presse Thursday.

Sebha, about 750 kilometers south of Tripoli, is bastion of Gadhafi's Guededfa tribe and home to an important military base.

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French Defense Minister: Gadhafi Forces Wavering

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Thursday that coalition airstrikes against Libya had been a "success" and would continue.

France's defense minister, meanwhile, said intercepted communications showed that some forces under Moammar Gadhafi are wavering in their support of the Libyan leader.

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No 'Political Leadership' Role for NATO in Libya

NATO will not take "political leadership" of the international coalition in Libya but will have a planning and operational role to enforce a U.N.-backed no-fly zone, the French foreign minister said Wednesday.

"NATO will intervene as a tool for planning and operational action" in applying the no-fly zone provided for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, Alain Juppe said at a press conference.

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France Says Operation Could Stop if Gadhafi Agrees Ceasefire

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called Tuesday for the creation of a special committee of foreign ministers from coalition countries to oversee operations in Libya.

"On the initiative of the President of the Republic, I have proposed to our British colleagues, who are in agreement, to set up a special body to oversee the operation," Juppe said, referring to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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Oil Hovers Above $102 as Traders Eye Libya Strife

Oil prices hovered above $102 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as traders mulled how long Libyan oil exports will remain shut down amid a third night of allied attacks on forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 14 cents to $102.19 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract, which expires Tuesday, rose $1.26 to settle at $102.33 on Monday.

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Coalition Pounds Libya for 3rd Night: International Air Campaign Provides Break for Rebels

Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night Monday, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat just last week.

But the rebellion's more organized military units still were not ready, and the opposition disarray underscored U.S. warnings that a long stalemate could emerge.

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U.N. Security Council Opens New Session on Libya

The U.N. Security Council began a closed-door meeting on Libya Monday, diplomats said, amid rising international criticism of air strikes directed at the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

Missile and air strikes launched over the weekend by U.S., British and French forces targeted Libyan air defense systems to impose a no-fly zone on Gadhafi's forces, and on Sunday demolished a building in the Libyan leader's compound.

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Gadhafi Forces Retreat after Western Airstrikes

Libyan government forces pulled back 100 kilometers from rebel-held Benghazi but showed they still had plenty of fight on Monday as they easily beat off a rebel advance.

The forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had retreated overnight to the key town of Ajdabiya, south of the city of Benghazi, after Western-led air strikes destroyed much of their armor, leaving dozens of wrecked tanks along the road.

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