The west was edging towards a possible military confrontation with Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, as the US deployed naval and air force units around Libya, and David Cameron ordered contingency plans for Britain to help enforce a no-fly zone.
The steps were part of a concerted western effort to hasten Gaddafi’s downfall and avoid a prolonged civil war and a humanitarian crisis on Europe’s southern flank.
The US froze $30bn in assets held by Gaddafi and his officials, a record for the United States. France meanwhile dispatched two aircraft full of medical and humanitarian supplies to the rebel-held town of Benghazi, the start of what it said would be “a massive operation of humanitarian support for the populations of liberated territories.”
Cameron said he had told the Ministry of Defence and the chief of the defence staff to draw up plans for a no-fly zone in coordination with Britain’s Nato allies and report back to him within days.