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Spanish parliament approves participation in Libya mission

Spanish lawmakers voted on Tuesday in favour of the country’s participation in international military operations in Libya by a wide margin as peace activists chanted “No to War” from the gallery.

Of the 340 lawmakers present, 336 voted in favour of Spain’s participation, three voted against — two from the far-left Izqueirda Unida party and one from the tiny left-wing nationalist BNG party — and one lawmaker abstained.

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the operation which got underway on Saturday had already “shown results” since he said “indiscriminate attacks” by Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s forces had been curbed.

“The operation should continue as long as there is a risk that the Libyan regime will attack again,” he told parliament before the lawmakers voted.

Spain sent a total of four F-18 fighter jets and a refueling aircraft to the Italian base of Decimomannu on the island of Sardinia to help enforce a UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya.

It has also deployed an F-100 frigate, an S-74 submarine and a CN-235 maritime surveillance plane to help enforce an arms embargo on Libya.

Around 500 Spanish troops will eventually be involved in the operation.

The motion approved by lawmakers on Tuesday allows the government to deploy these military means for the mission in Libya for an initial period of one month which can be renewed twice.

Spain has also allowed NATO to use two military bases, at Rota and at Moron de la Frontera in the south of the country, for the operation over the north African country.