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White House Welcomes Arab League Libya No-Fly Zone Call


A rebel fighter walks past as smoke rises from an oil refinery storage tank near Ras Lanouf.

The White House has welcomed the call by the nations in the Arab League for the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from air attacks by Muammar Qaddafi's forces.

A White House statement called the Arab League move March 12 an "important step," saying it adds to the international message that the violence in Libya must stop.

However, the U.S. statement made no new commitment to military action, and also stopped short of proposing a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the issue.

The United States and the European Union have both called on Qaddafi's regime to leave power. But neither the U.S. nor EU have so far been willing to impose a no-fly zone unilaterally.

It remains unclear whether the UN Security Council will vote to impose a no-fly zone.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Qaddafi's forces have made additional military gains against rebel fighters who are seeking to end his rule. The AFP news agency reports that rebels have retreated from the coastal oil-town of Ras Lanuf, in eastern Libya, after fighting there.

On March 11, Qaddafi's forces gave journalists a tour in of the town of Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, after it was recaptured from rebels.

compiled from agency reports