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UK Parliament to Vote on Libya Attacks

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TEHRAN, March 21 (ICANA) – British MPs are to be given a vote in the House of Commons on the country's involvement in the Libyan mission, following a debate promised by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Monday, March 21, 2011 3:26:00 PM
UK Parliament to Vote on Libya Attacks

With all three major party leaders firmly behind the operation, only a handful of MPs are expected to voice opposition during the vote on Monday, although concerns are likely to be raised about the prospect of Britain eventually being asked to provide ground troops, AAP reported.

On Sunday night, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said he expected his military leaders to hand over command of the mission to a coalition - probably headed by the UK, France or NATO - within "a matter of days".

Gates told reporters that President Barack Obama felt strongly about limiting the US role in operations, adding: "We will continue to support the coalition, we will be a member of the coalition, we will have a military role in the coalition, but we will not have the pre-eminent role."

Both the UK and US have expressed satisfaction about the progress of operations so far.

The UK's Ministry of Defence declared itself "entirely comfortable" with the success of the first night's raids, while the most senior US officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, said a no-fly zone was effectively in place.

Libyan state TV has dismissed as propaganda claims that 48 civilians were killed and 150 wounded in the first night's action.

Pentagon spokesman Vice-Admiral William Gortney said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi himself was not a target, telling a press briefing: "We are not going after Gaddafi. At this particular point I can guarantee he is not on the target list."

By contrast, UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox suggested that Gaddafi was a legitimate target, as long as steps were taken to avoid harm to civilians around him.

There were signs of unease in the Arab world over the scale and nature of the attacks.

The Arab League's secretary-general Amr Mussa said: "What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-flyzone. What we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians."

But the UK Foreign Office responded: "For the no-fly zone to be enforced safely, it is necessary to carry out carefully targeted operations against Libyan air defence capabilities.

"All missions are meticulously planned to ensure every care is taken to avoid civilian casualties. We will continue to work with our Arab partners to enforce the resolution for the good of the Libyan people."

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