Rebel gaurds in Benghazi - Reuters - March 21, 2011
A rebel guards in a street in Benghazi March 21, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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An international coalition has "largely neutralized" Libyan air defenses and a no-fly zone over the country is now in place, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.

Cameron said Britain, France, the United States and other nations had made good progress in achieving the aims of the military operation -- destroying Libyan air defenses and protecting civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.

"I can announce to the House (parliament) today that coalition forces have largely neutralized Libyan air defenses and that as a result the no-fly zone has effectively been put in place over Libya," Cameron told parliament.

Cameron added that the international force currently implementing the no-fly zone intended to eventually transfer the command to NATO.

"Let me explain how the coalition will work -- it's operating under U.S. command with the intention that this will transfer to NATO," Cameron told parliament.

This would mean that all NATO allies who wanted to contribute to the mission would be able to.

"Clearly the mission would benefit from that and from using NATO's tried and tested machinery in command and control," he said.

A U.S. national security official also said that following the coalition attack, forces loyal to Gadhafi "pulled back" from Benghazi and two other towns.

The official, who declined to be identified, said advances by Gadhafi's forces against Benghazi, Ajdabiya and Misrata had "stalled" as a consequence of the military action by U.S. and European forces that began on Saturday.

But he said Gadhafi's forces remained active and the United States does not believe the Libyan leader is fulfilling promises to implement a cease-fire.