NATO envoys decided late Thursday to maintain the no—fly patrols as authorized by a U.N. Security Council resolution last week. They also instructed the military staff to draw up plans for replacing the coalition air force in carrying out airstrikes against Col. Muammar Qadhafi’s forces.

NATO’s military staff is drawing up detailed plans to assume full control of the no—fly zone over Libya in the coming days, after member nations agreed to take on the operation from a U.S.—led coalition.

NATO envoys decided late Thursday to maintain the no—fly patrols as authorized by a U.N. Security Council resolution last week. They also instructed the military staff to draw up plans for replacing the coalition air force in carrying out airstrikes against Col. Muammar Qadhafi’s forces.

An official who asked not to be identified because of NATO rules said NATO was hoping to launch both operations simultaneously within the next couple of days.

NATO’s top decision—making body still has to approve the airstrike plans. It meets on Sunday.

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