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UN authorises no-fly zone over Libya

Ten of the UN Security Council's 15 members, including US, UK and France, pictured voting Thursday in favour of resolution 1973 approving "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya from Mummar Gaddafi's forces. Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil abstained. There were no opposing votes. Photo Devra Berkowitz/UN.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has voted on a resolution authorising a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" - code for military action - to protect civilians. The resolution rules out ground troops.

See Al-Jazeera’s report here.

Ten of the council's 15 members, including US, UK and France, voted in favour of the resolution, while Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil abstained. There were no opposing votes.

Last week, the Arab League called for a no-fly zone to be established in Libya and the resolution, co-authored by Britain and France, was tabled on Tuesday.

UNSC resolution 1973 (2011) calls on member states to

to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in [Libya], including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.”

Residents of Libya's de facto rebel capital of Benghazi joined in a massive street party to celebrate the UNSC resolution.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said afterwards:

“France is very much involved in this action and has prepared the draft resolution. We have one goal… we want to stop the attacks by the Gaddafi regime against civilian populations.”

US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said:

"Today the Security Council has responded to the Libyan people's cry for help."

Amid reports Britain was preparing for military action, Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

"This places a responsibility on members of the United Nations and that is a responsibility to which the United Kingdom will now respond."

China explained why despite reservations about international military action, it and other countries did not oppose:

"In view of the concerns and stance of the Arab countries and African Union and the special circumstances that currently apply in Libya, China and other countries abstained, and did not block the passing of the resolution," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, India protested that the doubts about international action had not been clarified by UK and France.

Delhi's envoy to UN Hardeep Singh Puri said:

“If countries have doubts...you try to remove them … I'm afraid that the two countries leading the process did not make the required effort."

India also opposed widening sanctions on Libya, saying it could hurt the economic interests of the Libyan people.

But Libya's deputy envoy to the UN dismissed India's objections: The sanctions "[have] nothing to do with the Libyan people," Ibrahim Dabbashi, who last month turned against Muammar Gaddafi, said.

See the Times of India's report here.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s response to resolution?

"The UN Security Council has no mandate. We don't acknowledge their resolutions."

Gaddafi, who condemned those rebelling against his 40 year rule as "rats, dogs, hypocrites and traitors", had this to say about France (see Sky News' report here):

"France now raises its head and says that it will strike Libya. We'll be the one who strikes you! We struck you in Algeria, in Vietnam. You want to strike us? Come and give it a try."