Gadhafi compound - AP - March 21, 2011
Libyan soldiers survey damage to an administrative building hit by a missile in hear of Muammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli, Libya, March 21, 2011. Photo by AP
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In an attack that carried as much symbolism as military effect, a cruise missile fired by Western forces imposing a no-fly zone in Libya blasted a building in Muammar Gadhafi's residential compound in Tripoli late Sunday, near his iconic tent.

It was not known where Gadhafi was at the time, but it seemed to show that while the allies trade nuances over whether his fall is a goal of their campaign - he is not safe.

An Associated Press photographer escorted to the scene by the Libyan government said half of the round, three-story administration building was knocked down, smoke was rising from it and pieces of the missile were scattered around the scene.

About 300 Gadhafi supporters were in the compound at the time. It was not known if any were hurt.

The U.S. military said the bombardment so far - a rain of Tomahawk cruise missiles and precision bombs from American and European aircraft, including long-range stealth B-2 bombers - had succeeded in heavily degrading Gadhafi's air defenses.

In addition to targeting anti-aircraft sites, U.S., British and French planes blasted a line of tanks that had been moving on the rebel capital Benghazi, in the opposition-held eastern half of the country.

On Sunday, at least seven demolished tanks smoldered in a field 20 kilometers south of Benghazi, many of them with their turrets and treads blown off, alongside charred armored personnel carriers, jeeps and SUVs of the kind used by Gadhafi fighters.

"I feel like in two days max we will destroy Gadhafi," said Ezzeldin Helwani, 35, a rebel standing next to the smoldering wreckage of an armored personnel carrier, the air thick with smoke and the pungent smell of burning rubber.

The strikes that began early Sunday gave immediate, if temporary, relief to Benghazi, which the day before had been under a heavy attack that killed at least 120 people.

The city's calm on Sunday highlighted the dramatic turnaround that the allied strikes bring to Libya's month-old upheaval: For the past 10 days, Gadhafi's forces had been on a triumphant offensive against the rebel-held east, driving opposition fighters back with the overwhelming firepower of tanks, artillery, warplanes and warships.

Now Gadhafi's forces are potential targets for U.S. and European strikes. The United Nations resolution authorizing international military action in Libya not only sets up a no-fly zone but allows all necessary measures to prevent attacks on civilians.