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What Next in Military Campaign in Libya?

An F-16 jet fighter taking off from the NATO airbase in Aviano, Italy, this week
An F-16 jet fighter taking off from the NATO airbase in Aviano, Italy, this week

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

The conflict in Libya and the nuclear crisis in Japan were the two big stories this week.

President Obama discussed the situation in Libya with congressional leaders again Friday. Some in Congress say he should have sought congressional approval for American military action. Critics include members of his own Democratic Party.

But a spokesman says the president was "well within" his constitutional rights to order missile attacks on Libyan military bases. The strikes began last Saturday.

On Thursday, NATO -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- agreed to take command of a "no-fly zone" over Libya. A Canadian general will head the alliance's operation there.

The United Nations Security Council approved the flight ban last week to protect civilians, including those in Benghazi. That eastern city is the center of a rebellion against Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.

Planes from an international coalition carried out new strikes Friday against Libyan military targets south of Benghazi. Earlier, the United Arab Emirates agreed to send twelve planes to help enforce the no-fly zone.

Many experts say air power alone will not protect civilians. Some wonder whether the objective should be to oust Colonel Gadhafi. But the United States says "regime change" is not the goal of the coalition.

There are diplomatic efforts to settle the crisis. Colonel Gadhafi sent a delegation to meet with African officials in Ethiopia on Friday. But the rebels did not send a representative.

Anti-government protests continued in other Arab countries, including Syria, Yemen and Jordan.

There were reports from southern Syria on Friday that security forces killed fifteen or more protesters. The protesters were trying to reach Daraa, near the Jordanian border. Similar violence was reported there earlier in the week.

Protesters demanding freedom held demonstrations Friday in several locations across Syria, including the capital. In Damascus, after Friday prayers, at least two hundred people demonstrated in support of the people of Daraa. Reuters news agency reported large numbers of arrests.

The United States has condemned what it called "brutal repression of demonstrations" in Syria. On Thursday the Syrian government said it will consider reforms including an end to years of emergency law.

In Japan, the nuclear emergency continued. The nation is dealing with new concerns that damage to the Fukushima nuclear power station could release more radiation.


On Friday Prime Minister Naoto Kan described the situation as "very grave and serious." People living between twenty and thirty kilometers of Fukushima have now been advised to leave the area.

Police in Japan say more than ten thousand people are now known to have died in the March eleventh quake and tsunami. More than seventeen thousand are still missing. And about three hundred thousand are living in temporary shelters.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.


Contributing: Andre de Nesnera, Peter Heinlein, Steve Herman, Henry Ridgwell and Edward Yeranian