French fighter jets have reportedly struck four tanks belonging to Qaddafi’s forces in Benghazi, beginning the allied military intervention in Libya. They’ve entered Libyan airspace to enforce the no-fly zone and protect civilians following a U.N. resolution authorizing military action by the U.K., France, the U.S., and the Arab League. Western leaders convened in Paris today over the Libyan crisis; French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after the meeting that “Our air force will oppose any aggression by Colonel Gadhafi against the population of Benghazi.”
Meanwhile, Muammar Qaddafi has been sending insane letters to world leaders including President Obama, saying stuff like this: “I have all the Libyan people with me and I’m prepared to die. And they are prepared to die for me. Men, women and even children.” Also, to Obama: “I have said to you before that even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son and I have all the love for you as a son, and I do not want your image to change with me.”
In coming days, the French will be joined by the U.S., he U.K., the United Arab Emirates, and others under the U.N. mandate.
UPDATE: The U.S. and Britain have joined the strikes on Libya. President Obama gave a statement, saying that the U.S. has begun “limited military action,” but reiterated that U.S. ground troops would not be deployed.
Admiral William Gortney is speaking at the Pentagon — he said that 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from American and British ships and submarines struck more than 20 targets. The U.S. is currently in charge of the mission, and expects to transition to a coalition leadership “in the coming days.”
UPDATE: Obama’s statements on the beginning of U.S. military action, via ABC News:
UPDATE 5:35 PM: Four Al-Jazeera journalists have been detained by Libyan authorities in western Libya. According to Al-Jazeera, Agence France Presse is reporting that Libyan state TV is reporting that a French fighter jet has been shot down, but this has not been confirmed.