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Broad coalition assembled to back UN action

As well as Britain, many other countries are involved in the operation in support of UN action to protect civilians from Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.

l France: France has some 20 fighter jets deployed in an initial operation in Libya, including Rafale multirole war planes, Mirage fighter jets and at least one AWACS surveillance aircraft.

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The target area involved is an area 62-by-93 miles (100 km by 150 km) around the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi.

The French operation is being run out of the Solenzara air base on Corsica, around an hour’s flight from Libya in a fighter jet.

l United States: The United States started a “limited military action” several hours after France that included strikes along the Libyan coast targeting Libyan air defences.

The US military deployed planes, cruise missiles and electronic attacks, the Pentagon said.

A defence official said the US Navy has three submarines with Tomahawk cruise missiles in the Mediterranean ready to participate, including attack submarines Newport News and the Providence. They were joined by two Navy ships. In all, the US Navy has five combat ships in the Mediterranean, including at least one guided-missile destroyer, but no aircraft carriers close to Libya.

l Canada: Canada’s HMCS Charlottetown warship has joined naval actions, including a blockade, taking place off Libya, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters.

Canadian fighter jets have reached the region but need another day or two of preparation, a Canadian government spokesman said. One Canadian tanker aircraft is stationed at Decimomannu airbase in Sardinia, Italy.

l Italy: Italy has deployed dozens of combat aircraft at its base at Trapani, Sicily in readiness for possible involvement in air strikes. Eight jets have been assigned and are ready to take action immediately, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said.

l Denmark: Defence Minister Gitte Lillelund Bech said that six Danish fighter planes had been deployed to Sicily. Four were awaiting US instructions to join operations over Libya on Sunday, and two would be kept in reserve. A Reuters TV crew later saw four Danish jets take off from Sigonella airbase in Sicily.

l Norway: Inspector General Finn Kristian Hannestad of the Norwegian Air Force was quoted by public broadcaster NRK as saying the NATO member was ready to send up to six F-16 fighter jets for an operation in Libya. Norway was sending personel to Sicily to look at different base options, and would be ready to get involved within 5-10 days, he said.

l Qatar: The top US military officer on Sunday said aircraft from Qatar were moving into position near Libya to participate in the Western military operation.

l UAE: The Italian command at Decimomannu airbase said it was awaiting F-16s from the United Arab Emirates. It was not clear how many, or when they would arrive.

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