Britain launches Libya assault with strikes on air defence
British missiles pounded Libyan air defences on Saturday as military intervention kicked off, with Prime Minister David Cameron urging an end to the "appalling brutality" of Moamer Kadhafi's regime.
As the action to enforce a UN resolution began, a British submarine fired Tomahawk missiles at Libyan air defence targets, as part of an attack with US forces that saw more than 110 missiles fired.
The coordinated attack from ships and submarines hit more than 20 targets onshore as part of the action to stop the Libyan leader's forces crushing an uprising, according to a top US military officer.
Speaking in London, Cameron said: "Tonight, British forces are in action over Libya. They are part of an international coalition that has come together to enforce the will of the United Nations and to protect the Libyan people.
"We have all seen the appalling brutality that Colonel Kadhafi has meted out against his own people and far from introducing the ceasefire he spoke about he has actually stepped up the attacks and the brutality."
British military spokesman Major General John Lorimer said the missile strike was the first stage in the military intervention.
"UK and partner forces remain engaged in ongoing operations as we seek to ensure that Colonel Kadhafi and his forces understand that the international community will not stand by and watch them kill civilians," he said.
The assault started earlier Saturday when a French warplane fired the first shot on a military vehicle in Libya, as world leaders met in Paris to discuss the intervention that is backed by Western and Arab countries.
Cameron defended the action, saying it "is necessary, it is legal, and it is right."
"It is necessary because, with others, we should be trying to prevent him using his military against his own people.
"It is legal, because we have the backing of the United Nations Security Council and also of the Arab League and many others.
"And it is right because we believe we should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people."
Cameron also praised the British armed forces as "the bravest of the brave".
© 2011 AFP