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Coalition warplanes strike Gadhafi forces outside Ajdabiya

March 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The chief of the African Union is calling for a transition period in Libya that would lead to democratic elections. A Libyan government delegation is in Ethiopia on Friday meeting with five African heads of state.

The meeting is part of an effort to reach a cease-fire and political solution, according to the United Nations.

U.S. plans to hand over command of no-fly zone

NATO plans to take over command and control of the no-fly zone enforcement over Libya this weekend.

"NATO allies have now decided to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya," announced NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen late Thursday.

Even the United Arab Emirates is now on board, sending 12 planes to join the coalition.

The U.S. military said coalition jets flew about 150 sorties on Thursday, about 70 of them with American planes.

"We welcome this important step. It underscores both the breadth of this international coalition and the depth of concern in the region for the plight of the Libyan people," said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Some in Congress are still calling on the Obama administration to define the U.S. mission in Libya. But in an ABC News exclusive, a U.S. commander said there was no time to talk about an ending before taking action.

"I don't think he can stand by and have that debate about end state while he's killing his own people. By that point, it may have become a moot point," said Gen. Carter Ham to ABC News.

Coalition warplanes strike Gadhafi forces

Coalition warplanes struck Gadhafi's forces outside the strategic city of Ajdabiya, the gateway to the rebel-held east, hitting an artillery battery and armored vehicles.

The strikes were intended to give a measure of relief to the city, whose residents have fled or cowered under more than a week of shelling and fighting between rebels and government troops. Explosions also sounded in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, before daybreak Friday, apparently from airstrikes.

Ajdabiya has been under siege for more than a week, with the rebels holding the city center and scattered checkpoints but facing relentless shelling from government troops on the outskirts. Residents are without electricity or drinking water, and many have fled.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.