Arab League criticises Western strikes on Libya

The Arab League on Sunday criticised Western military strikes on Libya, a week after urging the United Nations to slap a no-fly zone on the oil-rich North African state.

"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians," Arab League secretary general Amr Mussa told reporters.

"From the start we requested only that a no-fly zone be set up to protect Libyan civilians and avert any other developments or additional measures," Mussa added.

On March 12, the Arab League urged the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone on Libya and said Moamer Kadhafi's regime had "lost legitimacy" as it sought to snuff out a rebellion designed to oust him from power.

In the West's biggest intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, US warships and a British submarine fired more than 120 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya on Saturday, the US military said.

French warplanes also carried out air strikes.

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 on Thursday authorising military action to prevent the forces of Libya's longtime leader Kadhafi from attacking civilians.

Mussa said preparations were under way to convene an emergency meeting of the 22-member Arab League at which Libya would top the agenda. "We are currently consulting about a meeting," he said.

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