Gaddafi not on the target, mission is to protect civilians: US

"No", said Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes, when asked if Gaddafi is on the target of coalition forces.

"We’ve said this a number of times, that there are very clearly defined goals for the military operation that we are undertaking. It is to protect Libyan civilians, stop the advances of Gaddafi’s forces on cities like Benghazi, enable the establishment of a no-fly zone, and enable the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Libya," Rhodes said.

"Those are the express purpose of the military mission, which is enforcing UN Security Council 1973, which is about protecting the Libyan people, which is not about regime change," he said.

Rhodes said the US is aware of Gaddafi using human shield for protection.
"I don't know that we have specific information but it's certainly something we watch closely because we anticipate it’s certainly a tactic that would be consistent with how Qaddafi has acted," he said.

Earlier in the day US President Barack Obama was updated about the situation in Libya by his top national security advisors.

On the plane, Obama had a one-hour secure call with Tom Donilon, National Security Advisor; Bill Daley, Chief of Staff; Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State; Robert Gates, Defense Secretary;, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff; and General Ham, Commander of US Africa Command.

"He got a briefing from Admiral Mullen and General Ham about the status of our military operations, what took place overnight, and the planning that they are doing going forward," Rhodes said, adding that he got a review from Clinton about the status of coalition-building efforts, the diplomacy associated with the enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, and the work that the US is doing.

Obama also received an update from his national security team on Japan.
Rhodes said the US is right now in discussions with it partners about the nature of transition, the nature of the command structure that will follow on from the actions that they are undertaking right now.

"We anticipate that that command structure will include our European allies and will take place, we’ve said, in a matter of days, not weeks," he said.

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