NATO agrees to enforce no-fly zone over Libya

NATO agrees to enforce no-fly zone over Libya

But the Western military alliance would not be responsible for striking Libyan ground forces to prevent attacks on civilians, Rasmussen said. That means there would effectively be two military commands for the time being unless politicians can agree to give NATO broader oversight of the mission.

"NATO will enforce the no-fly zone. We are considering whether NATO should take on that broader responsibility (to protect civilians) but that decision has not been made yet," Rasmussen told CNN.

Rasmussen said NATO would take command of enforcing the no-fly zone "in the coming days" from the US, which has been leading the military action launched Saturday to stop Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime from killing anti-government forces and civilians.

"We're taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect the civilians against the attacks by the Gaddafi regime," Rasmussen told CNN.

Rasmussen said NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, US Admiral James Stavridis, would take overall command of the mission.

Frantic diplomatic efforts by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including a four-way conference call with her counterparts from France, Turkey and Britain, hammered out a consensus among US allies and NATO countries on the current military operations in Libya.

As soon as the deal was struck, Clinton drove to the White House to brief the President Barack Obama and his national security team.

"We have agreed, along with our NATO allies, to transition command and control for the no-fly zone over Libya to NATO. All 28 allies have also now authorised military authorities to develop an operations plan for NATO to take on the broader civilian protection mission under Resolution 1973," Clinton told the media at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

"NATO is well-suited to coordinating this international effort and ensuring that all participating nations are working effectively together toward our shared goals. This coalition includes countries beyond NATO, including Arab partners, and we expect all of them to be providing important political guidance going forward," she said.