Qatar fighter jets carry out first Libya mission: France

25th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Two Mirage fighter planes carried out Qatar's first mission over Libya, accompanied by two French jets, as part of the international coalition's operation, the French military said on its website.

"The air mission is the first by an Arab League country as part of multinational operations in Libya," it said.

The French and Qatari aircraft which are based at Souda base on the Greek island of Crete were involved in an "air interdiction mission" participating in the monitoring of the no-fly zone under a UN mandate to stop forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi from taking to the air.

The Qatari air force earlier announced that an undisclosed number of planes had "overflown sister Libya as part of the international coalition" to enforce the no-fly zone imposed on the Libyan leader's forces "to protect civilians".

It did not specify a date for the start of Qatari operations nor a location for the first flights, in a brief statement carried by state news agency QNA.

But two Qatari Mirage jet fighters and a C-17 Globemaster transport plane landed on Tuesday in Cyprus for refuelling on their way to deployment. State television said they were headed for the US air base on Crete.

France deployed three Mirage 2000s to Souda for joint patrols.

French armed forces officials said more Qatari planes were expected in Crete shortly.

The United Arab Emirates, a key US ally, has also committed six F-16 and six Mirage fighters to help enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, despite reservations linked to unrest in Bahrain.

© 2011 AFP

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