French planes struck Libyan air base overnight

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 24, 2011 8:45 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - French warplanes struck an air base in central Libya early Thursday in a fifth night of bombardments by Western powers against Muammar Gaddafi's military, France's armed forces spokesman said.

Spokesman Thierry Burkhard told a news briefing that around 15 French planes were deployed Wednesday and a dozen overnight, leading to missile strikes on an air base some 155 miles inland from Libya's Mediterranean coast.

"We are not changing tack, action is continuing," Burkhard said.

Earlier Thursday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe defended the pace of the coalition air operation, which has been spearheaded by France. He said five days was not long enough to achieve its goal of protecting civilians by crushing Gaddafi's counter-offensive against rebel forces.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; writing by Catherine Bremer; editing by Mark Heinrich)