Command and control of military operations in Libya, in particular, the enforcement of the no-fly zone imposed under a United Nations Security Council resolution, will transfer to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday.

In a statement Mr. Rasmussen said, “We are taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect civilians against the attacks by the [Muammar] Qadhafi regime,” adding that NATO would seek to cooperate with its partners in the region and welcome their contributions.

Mr. Rasmussen also said that all NATO allies were committed to fulfil their obligations under the U.N. resolution and that is why the alliance decided to assume responsibility for the no-fly zone.

Mr. Rasmussen’s announcement of the second phase of the military operations came after more than five days of aerial bombardment of targets in Libya by the Western alliance comprising the United States, the United Kingdom, France and other nations.

Even as the transfer of command and control was outlined, the U.S. State Department, in a conference call with journalists on Friday, denied that any cracks had emerged in the Western alliance, or in the international community’s support for military action against the Qadhafi regime.

Specifically, State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner said in response to a question from The Hindu that notwithstanding suggestions that nations such as Russia had disputed the U.S.’ claims surrounding civilian casualties resulting from the air strikes, the key backers of UNSCR 1973, authorising the no-fly zone, were on board.

Mr. Toner said that even if some countries had differing views on the ongoing action in Libya, it was due to the rapid deployment of force and actions taken on the ground by the Western alliance that a humanitarian crisis in Benghazi been averted.

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