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March 21, 2011

Libya: UN air strikes aid rebels

After weeks of debate, the United Nations finally approved a no-fly zone in Libya, helping rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy at perhaps the last possible moment. Rebels had been driven back by the Libyan army to their last stronghold, the eastern city of Benghazi, and appeared ready to be overrun there as well. Two nights of bombardment by coalition forces have sent the army into retreat, and a missile struck Khadafy's compound in Tripoli, but the final outcome of the conflict is far from clear. Collected here are images from the last few days of fighting. For an earlier Big Picture post on the conflict, see the links below. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)

Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Libyan rebels carry an injured comrade following a failed attempt to take the town of Ajdabiya from Moammar Khadafy's forces on March 21 as news reports said Libyan government forces pulled back 60 miles from rebel-held Benghazi after Western-led air strikes destroyed much of their armor. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Libyan jet bomber crashes after being shot down in Benghazi on March 19 as Libya's rebel stronghold came under attack, with at least two air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sending thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

A rebel fighter supporter shoots into the air as she reacts to the news of the withdrawal of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy's forces from Benghazi March 19. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

Rebel fighters ride on a tank captured from Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy's forces in Benghazi March 19. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

Libyan army soldiers stand on a building, destroyed in what the government said was a Western missile attack, inside Bab Al-Aziziyah, Khadafy's heavily-fortified Tripoli compound March 21. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters) #

A supporter of Moammar Khadafy shows pieces of shrapnel from what the government said was a Western missile attack on a building inside Bab Al-Aziziyah, Khadafy's heavily-fortified Tripoli compound March 21. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters) #

A man fires his pistol in the air during a celebratory rally after the United Nations approved a no-fly zone over the country on March 18 in Tobruk, Libya. Libya declared an immediate cease-fire after the UN vote but reports indicated that Moammar Khadafy's forces were still shelling two cities. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

A rebel fighter shows hand grenades found on fighters loyal to Moammar Khadafy after they were killed by rebel fighters in Benghazi March 19. Khadafy's forces pushed into the rebel-held city of Benghazi on Saturday, defying world demands for an immediate ceasefire. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

Aisha Khadafy, daughter of Moammar Khadafy, holds a Libyan flag as she greets supporters at Bab Al-Aziziyah in Tripoli March 19. Thousands of Libyans packed into Moammar Khadafy's heavily fortified Tripoli compound on Saturday to form a human shield against possible air strikes by allied forces. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters) #

Libyan girls receive gifts from their school during celebrations in their classroom of Children's Day, which was marked in the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 21. (Mahmud TukiaAFP/Getty Images) #

A soldier from the Libyan army stands at Green Square in Tripoli March 20. Western forces pounded Libya's air defenses and patrolled its skies on Sunday, but their day-old intervention hit a serious diplomatic setback as the Arab League chief condemned the "bombardment of civilians". (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters) #

Libyans mourn during the funeral of the people who were killed after air strikes by coalition forces, at the martyrs' cemetery in Tripoli March 20. (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters) #

Libyans mourn during the funeral of the people who were killed after air strikes by coalition forces, at the martyrs' cemetery in Tripoli March 20. (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters) #

A man stands in front of a burning vehicle belonging to forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

A tank belonging to forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy explodes after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

A Libyan rebel holds the rebellion flag as he steps over wrecked military vehicles belonging to Moammar Khadafy forces hit by French warplanes on March 20. Dozens of Khadafy military vehicles were destroyed in morning air strikes by the coalition west of Benghazi, as a semblance of normality returned with cars out on the road and street markets reopened in the rebel bastion. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

A rebel fighter shouts in front of a burning vehicle belonging to forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

A Libyan rebel smiles next to wrecked military vehicles belonging to Moammar Khadafy forces hit by French warplanes on March 20. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

An elderly rebel fighter gestures in front of a destroyed tank belonging to forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy after an air strike by coalition forces in Benghazi March 20. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

Men weep beside the bodies of family members killed during Saturday's offensive by forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy in the northeastern city of Benghazi on March 20. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A man looks at a destroyed tank belonging to forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20. (Suhaib Salemk/Reuters) #

Rebel fighters gesture in front of burning vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy after an air strike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

Curious Libyan onlookers take pictures of dead African teenagers, members of Moammar Khadafy's forces hit by airstrikes by French warplanes in al-Wayfiyah west of Benghazi, on March 20 in al-Wayfiyah. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

Rebel fighters point their weapons at a vehicle at a checkpoint during a gun battle in downtown Benghazi on March 20. Sporadic explosions and heavy gunfire broke out in central Benghazi at around 10 p.m. and lasted about 40 minutes, a Reuters witness reported from the city. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A rebel fighter points his gun at a suspected Khadafy supporter as other rebels try to protect the suspected supporter, on a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah on March 21. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

Libyan rebels retreat with their injured under heavy fire following a failed attempt to take the town of Ajdabiya from Moammar Khadafy's forces on March 21. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

Mourners react during the funeral of Libyans killed by forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy, in Benghazi March 21. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters) #

A young girl flashes the victory sign during a celebratory rally after the United Nations approved a no-fly zone over the country on March 18 in Tobruk. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

People flee the Libyan city of Benghazi through the town of Al-Marej on March 17. Libya warned it could target all Mediterranean air and sea traffic in the case of foreign military intervention. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Libyan bank cashier gives a client outdated bank notes, which had been removed from circulation several years ago and reissued recently by the central bank due to cash shortage, at a bank in Tripoli on March 17. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Libyan girl fleeing Benghazi sits in a bus on March 19 as the exodus of civilians began shortly after the first air strikes hit Benghazi. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Libyan family, who fled their house after shelling from troops loyal to Moammar Khadafy, takes shelter in a university in Tobruk, east of Tripoli, March 19. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters) #


 
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