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U.S., Coalition Forces Target Libyan Military From Air

Aired March 19, 2011 - 23:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): U.S. fire power, allied military muscle, speeding towards Libya, to stop a brutal civil war.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: Colonel Gadhafi has totally ignored this warning.


LEMON: But a defiant Moammar Gadhafi isn't backing now.


COL. MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LEADER OF LIBYA (through translator): Now all the depos will be opened and armed people, to defend people, and its unity.


LEMON: A showdown of force on many sides with global impact.

(On camera): We'd like to welcome our viewers around the globe watching the CNN NEWSROOM special coverage of TARGET LIBYA. I'm Don Lemon.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, TARGET LIBYA: I'm John Vause from CNN International.

The time for warnings is over. The time for action is now, as the U.S. joins a coalition of countries targeting Moammar Gadhafi's forces.



Heavy gun fire and explosions in Libya's capital of Tripoli just hours after the coalition attacked Libya's defenses. In the latest move, British jets flew 3,000 miles to carry out missile strikes on key targets. LEMON: And earlier, the Pentagon said that U.S. and British ships and submarines fired more than 110 Tomahawks missiles on Tripoli and Misurata. They hit about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets. Coalition calling this Operation Odyssey Dawn.

VAUSE: And, Don, France actually struck first against Gadhafi's forces. French jets destroyed military vehicles after Libyan forces attacked the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. French planes are preparing to enforce the U.N.'s no-fly zone.

LEMON: And U.S. President Barack Obama had strong words for Gadhafi during his trip to brazil, making it clear that this is a last resort.


OBAMA: The use of force is not our first choice. And it's not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.


VAUSE: And the same time, Gadhafi remains defiant vowing to open the arms depos to his people. He took to Libyan state TV soon after the attacks.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LEADER OF LIBYA (through translator): Libya will exercise its right to defend itself according to Section 1 of the United Nations charter. That all targets, maritime targets, will be exposed to real danger. And Mediterranean and North Africa because of this aggression, naked aggression, and this irresponsible -- it's a war zone.


VAUSE: And Libyan state television also ran an official statement from the Libyan military.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): An enemy attacked the state on March 19th with rockets in Tripoli, Misurata, Benghazi and Zawiya and Sirt. Those enemies killed 48 martyrs, mostly women, children and religious clerics. They left more than 150 injured. The majority of these attacks were on public areas, hospitals and schools. They frightened the women and children near those areas that were subject to this aggression.


VAUSE: CNN, though, has not confirmed that statement you just heard.

LEMON: Here's what we know about the operation against Libya, at this hour.

The coalition includes American, European and Arab League nations. It is the largest international military action in Arab state -- in an Arab state since the Iraq invasion, John.

VAUSE: They are operating under a United Nations resolution which authorizes force, the fighter jets and missiles are the first part of the operation; it will includes enforcement of a no-fly zone, and a lot more than that.

LEMON: All right. Let's get to the ground now. CNN's Nic Robertson in Tripoli, an area thick with loyalist.

VAUSE: Earlier he was talking to us about loud anti-aircraft, explosions and gunfire. The situation had calmed down and sent us this report a short time ago.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (On camera): It's quite quiet, eerily quiet. We are hearing a few cars driving by on the road. The occasional sound of heavy machine gunfire bursts, but just short and very sporadic. And hour and a half ago we heard several loud explosions, followed by intense bursts of heavy anti- aircraft gunfire and a couple more explosions and then those heavy bursts of gun fire again.

We can't tell - I'm not able to tell what exactly caused those very large blasts but they did sound very similar to cruise missiles and their sort of size, sound, and feel that the explosions had. But again, impossible for us to know what was hit. The heavy anti- aircraft gunfire appeared to be-or sounded as if and the tracer fire going up in the sky from an area close to the palace complex used by Moammar Gadhafi, where earlier this evening was seeing heavy anti- aircraft batteries in place there. And now we have also seen pictures on state television here of some of the casualties, John, Don.

LEMON: So, Nic, describe to us the situation before this happened. Were you able, in some way, to hear or feel the force of the Tomahawk missiles that came in from the U.S.? Before this anti- aircraft, or anti-gunfire that you were hearing, that you heard a short time ago, what was happening in Tripoli?

ROBERTSON: Well, there had been sporadic gun fire. There is increased security on the streets. Armed men in civilian clothing outside government buildings, armed police, traffic intersection. We had seen an anti-aircraft gun being used by soldiers or soldiers working on it in the palace complex. A few hours -- a few hours before we heard these explosions. But it was sort of a -- it was the situation was beginning to get -- feel a little more serious after the first tomahawk cruise missiles reported. Before that, perhaps 11:00 at night here, we're talking about five, six hours ago now, there was more of a sort of party atmosphere. Gadhafi loyalists celebrating on the streets, fireworks, and then it all became very serious after those first reports of Tomahawk cruise missiles hitting targets in the West of Libya just to the east of Tripoli. But what we have seen on state television, those casualties we have seen are at variance with the reports coming from the military spokesman here in Libya. The casualties we have seen on state television are men, all of fighting age, a couple wearing what appear to be uniforms, they were visited by what appeared to be a couple of military officers, they were in uniform.

At least one of the people in the bed in the hospital had heavy head injuries. The other had lighter injuries. They were -- there were television crews there obviously with them, filming this, interviewing the soldiers and some saying what means 100 percent, 100 percent, slang here for support for Moammar Gadhafi, Don, John.

LEMON: Our thanks to Nic Robertson in Tripoli. The rebel stronghold of Benghazi has been under fierce attack by Gadhafi's forces but the rebels have held their ground.

VAUSE: CNN'S Arwa Damon is live in that city for us right now. Arwa, has it been any reaction, though? We keep asking you about the mood there. Must be a great sense of relief that the military action has finally started.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There most certainly is, John. This is exactly what the opposition has been asking for, for almost a month now. International help, because they felt that they had taken this battle just as far as they could with the means that they have. Everybody was dreading an onslaught of Gadhafi's forces. We saw that materializing some 24 hours ago, in Benghazi, when he entered the city through a southern gate, with tanks firing, from those tanks, inside the city itself, also artillery rounds landing inside the city.

Eyewitnesses telling us about Gadhafi's troops on their vehicles, their heavy machine guns smiling and laughing as they opened fire on residential areas. The opposition did, in fact, manage to drive the Gadhafi forces out themselves. But there was a great concern that he would just be regrouping, ready to launch another attack. Much widespread relief (AUDIO GAP) the fact that through there are fighter jets overhead, and believe they have been hearing just now some aircraft fly over Benghazi.

People here still on high alert (AUDIO GAP). Because they do say that they're up against a person unpredictable, who is erratic. They call him a lunatic. They don't exactly know what his next move is going to be. And they also did say, eyewitnesses telling us, that he has sleeper cells that he might be issuing orders to carry out targeted assassinations (AUDIO GAP) of the strike, John.

VAUSE: Arwa, I want you to talk more about that. Because I'm wondering. You mentioned the sense of accomplishment they must feel, in Benghazi, because it still is a rebel stronghold. There a feeling, though, that what's happening in Tripoli could happen there, or is there some sense of relief because they're holding their ground, that there won't be as much fire power aimed at Benghazi?

DAMON: It would be very difficult to envision a scenario where fire power were aimed in this (AUDIO GAP) city itself. I think the people would hope for that if they did try to advance on the city once again (AUDIO GAP) and how at that military conflict to prevent it from entering inside Benghazi. A lot of (AUDIO GAP) when Gadhafi's troops and tanks were inside the city that it would be difficult for foreign fighter jets to target them because they would be trying to hide in residential areas, but people in Benghazi would welcome an attack on advancing troops because they're not certain how long they're going to be able to hold them off, if they were to be fighting this out on their own.

Where people are concerned about, though, are these pro-Gadhafi pockets, many residents telling us how in each neighborhood there are Gadhafi sympathizers. And they know who these individuals are. They have chosen not to go after them. But they have carried out a fairly significant intimidation campaign. One woman, for example, who used to run a community kitchen that was cooking, sending food down to the front lines a few days ago she received a threatening phone call telling her to stop. And the person on the other end of the line knew her children's names, their ages and detailed the inside of the house to her.

VAUSE: OK, Arwa Damon there, on the phone for us from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. It is still a rebel stronghold despite that very concentrated attack earlier today by Gadhafi's forces.

LEMON: John, the world's top diplomats gather to discuss Gadhafi.

VAUSE: A stern message for the Libyan leader that's still ahead.


LEMON: Explosions and anti-aircraft gunfire lighting up the skies of Tripoli tonight. We should bring in now, to talk about that, our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr.

VAUSE: Yes, Barbara, let's talk about the military strategy, the Operation Odyssey Dawn coalition forces are taking out some Libyan air defenses. We are still at the opening phase here. When does the next phase kick into play?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think at first light now over Libya there will begin to be this assessment of the damage caused by the initial strikes. They get the Libyan air defenses, the radars, the communications facilities, those surface-to-air surface sites, that the Libyans man, that could bring down no-fly zone aircraft?

They're going to have to look at that and decide how much of it across this coastline of Libya they got. How much of it is destroyed? And when it will be safe for pilots to begin to fly over Libya, in this no-fly zone configuration?

But, you know, it is really interesting. You have seen both sides rapidly put their cards on the table, the coalition side going for these very precise, unmanned cruise missiles to go after these targets. And look on the other side of your screen, the Libyans with their ground weapons in Tripoli putting up anti-aircraft fire, tracer fire, which isn't so dangerous, but making a very public show of their force and really making the point that they are in the cities. They're where the civilian populations are. And they are going to make it very tough on the coalition to move in to any additional phase of coming after the ground forces, John, Don.

LEMON: Barbara, I want to read the statement which was from a Libyan official tonight just to get your response to the wording of this. It says in part, "An enemy attacked the state on March 19th with rockets" talks about in Tripoli, Benghazi and other places. "Those enemies killed 48 martyrs, mostly women, children and religious clerics. They left more than 150 dead. They attacked public areas, hospitals, schools. They frightened the children and women near those areas that were subject to this aggression."

It's a very strongly-worded statement and in one direction here.

STARR: Well, sure. And I think it's a statement that everyone would have expected Gadhafi's regime to make but let's -- let's be very clear. We don't know yet. The coalition made no announcement publicly of what the results of the bombing strikes have been. Certainly, we are told, yet again, by very senior military officials they're making all efforts to avoid civilian casualties. But let's be realistic. We have seen repeatedly over the years that things happen. Missiles go astray no matter how precise they are. Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, they're very savvy opponents. They mix their weapons in with civilian populations. Do the coalition forces target mosques and hospitals? Absolutely not.

We will see about the voracity of Gadhafi's statements, whether it is true, the claims he's making. I would note my colleague Nic Robertson said a little while ago the preliminary indications are that any injured are men of fighting age and appear to be potentially members of a fighting force. So all of this still remains to be seen. Not to say that it's not going to get very tough to move against Gadhafi's forces if they put themselves in the middle of Tripoli, if they're already in certain places in Benghazi, or try and put the weapons in with civilian populations. Whether it's cruise missiles that are precise, or manned aircraft, going to be very tough to go after that.

VAUSE: OK, Barbara Starr, Pentagon correspondent for us in Los Angeles. And as Barbara mentioned we are coming to daylight there. It is 20 past 5:00 in the morning, on Sunday in Libya. And then they will get a better assessment of just where those missiles landed and how much damage is done.

LEMON: Of course, there is always a name for these operations. This one is Operation Odyssey Dawn. It's under way tonight in Libya.

VAUSE: John King breaks down the strategy behind all of it. That's coming up.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM special coverage of TARGET LIBYA. I'm Don Lemon.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

A coalition of countries, including the U.S., France and Great Britain, is taking out key targets across Libya.

LEMON: And U.S. military says today's strikes in Libya are just the first of what's likely to be a multi-phased operation. CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King breaks down Operation Odyssey Dawn-John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, let's zoom in and take a close look at what we are told were the first targets and will continue to be the major targets in the early days of Operation Odyssey Dawn. We will zoom in and look closely at the northern Libyan coast, Benghazi, that is the opposition stronghold. Tripoli, that is the capital. These other key cities in between, now why were so many of the 110 cruise missiles used in the first day, 112. Why were so many of them targeted right along the coast? Not just because it's the capital, not just because Gadhafi is headquartered there, because that is where he has the weapons, which would put coalition pilots most at risk.

The purple circle, S-200, the Pentagon uses. S-5 is the NATO terminology. It's a Russian surface-to-air missile, range of about 150 miles. That is the most dangerous weapon Gadhafi has to use against coalition pilots. The smaller circles, other surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft batteries, you see them across the coast, and all the way over here. These were the initial targets for the most part , but some over here, as well. Again surface-to-air missiles anti-aircraft that could be used against coalition pilots in the days ahead. The idea is to wipe those resources out before you have so many jets over here enforcing the no-fly zone.

How is this done? Let's bring this down here. I'll show you the weapons used like this, 110, 112 cruise missiles in the early days. Most of them from these three U.S. subs, the Scranton, the Providence, the Florida, also a British sub, and two guided-missile cruisers in the U.S. Navy, the USS Barry and the USS Stout. What do they all have in common? They all fire the Tomahawk cruise missile. You see it here. Programmed on the sub or on the ship, hugs the ground, approaches its target and strikes. Here's a photo of one taking off from the USS Barry. Punishing, also means not as much manpower as risk. You are using a cruise missile, not a pilot to deliver the first strikes.

Another thing to look for in the days ahead, as I mentioned, anti-aircraft installations. The early targets, but if you close this down, here's something else we expect in the days ahead. These are Libyan military installations and airstrips. A key goal before the no-fly zone is fully enforced, taken out the Libyan runways, pock them, like this, using bombs, you can do this with a cruise missile. The easiest way to do it is with a fighter jet from above, you take out the runway, so it makes it harder. Not quite impossible, but harder for Gadhafi's jets to take off and land. He has been using them against the opposition and he could, of course, try to use them against coalition pilots.

But, Don, as this plays out, this is what we're told to expect for several days. The key installations here, the military installations, but particularly, especially early on anti-aircraft, surface-to-air missiles that could put any pilots in that no-fly zone at risk, Don.

LEMON: John King, thank you very much.

Up next, we'll talk to a doctor who has just returned from Libya after treating victims of recent fighting.

VAUSE: His firsthand account of the horror on the ground there, that is coming up.


LEMON: The U.N. sanctioned this show of force against Libya in order to force Moammar Gadhafi to stop attacking his own people. Gadhafi's forces have been violently cracking down on rebels for weeks now.

VAUSE: Doctor Mahmoud Traina has seen firsthand the horrors committed against those who dare to oppose Gadhafi. He recently returned home to California after treating victims in Libya.

Doctor Traina, thank you so much for joining us.


LEMON: My first question to you-again, thanks for being here.

What does it do to you to see the air strikes? As a doctor you must know there are going to be more injuries, more casualties, but when you see these air strikes, what does that do to you?

TRAINA: Very difficult to see air strikes against the country of my origin, but I think the feeling is that hopefully these disable his -- Gadhafi's forces enough so that the true free people of Libya can overcome his ground troops, and get him out of power.

VAUSE: Doctor, there in Benghazi, for about a week, you worked in the hospital. What sort of wounds were you treating? How severe were they and what kind of conditions were you working under?

TRAINA: I was primarily place in the intensive care unit so we were dealing with a lot of major gunshot wound injuries. So there was a lot of people with gunshot wounds, primarily to the chest, neck and head. A lot of them got severe infections and were dealing with shock, septic shock. ICUs jam packed. You know, they were overflowing from their capacity and the hospital in general was filled with injuries of all kinds.

LEMON: OK. Here's the real question. We understand that you left your pregnant wife to fly to Libya and offer your help in this situation?

TRAINA: Yes. It was a difficult decision but, you know, once I was - a few friends of mine were arranging a medical convoy. And they let me know that there was a need for doctors' help there. I felt that I couldn't not go and provide whatever little assistance I could to the situation. And my wife was unbelievably supportive, but she made the requirement that I come back so - here I am.

LEMON: When's the baby due?

TRAINA: In three weeks.

LEMON: All right. Good luck.

VAUSE: Yeah.

TRAINA: Thank you.

VAUSE: And when you did get to Libya and you describe some of the conditions you were working under. I'm curious as to the people that you were treating. Who were these people who had been wounded presumably by Gadhafi's forces? Were they young, old, professional fighters, civilians? What did you see?

TRAINA: There was a whole range of mix. I mean, there were some children. There were some young men. There were some older men. They actually were even a few foreigners, non-Libyan, believed, the people said they were mercenaries, that they were treating. So it was kind of a wide range of people that were affected. According to the people and the patients that I talked to, you know, most of them were unarmed. They were carrying sticks and just trying to protect themselves from the attack of the forces. And they would tell gruesome stories about, about how they would invade them, in terms of their homes, and into their alleyways and randomly attack people.

VAUSE: Doctor Mahmoud Traina, for us, recently returned from Libya, we appreciate your time and sharing some of your experiences there in Libya.


LEMON: Don't forget to thank his wife, as well, for making the sacrifice.

VAUSE: Absolutely. And we wish you well with the birth of your child.

TRAINA: Thank you. And we hope Libya will be free soon.

Again, thanks to Doctor Traina.

Coalition leaders say time is running out, John, for Moammar Gadhafi.

VAUSE: Up next, how the situation in Libya got so bad so quickly. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Let's update the situation in Libya. This is the dominant image of the first day of Operation Odyssey Dawn. One more of for than 100 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and subs, all targeting anti-aircraft batteries and other military targets in Libya.

Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, is defiant tonight saying he'll open up weapon depos to arm the people. Gadhafi is also asking other Islamic nations to help Libya fight against what he calls "naked aggression". The Libyan government also claims the missile strikes have caused real harm to civilians. Gadhafi says the coalition attacks are being carried out by quote, "a crusader army".

Libyans in the capital city of Tripoli tonight heard loud explosions and anti-aircraft fire.



VAUSE: This is video, shot a short time ago. Look closely and you'll see the streaks of anti-aircraft gun fire looking almost like bright dashes in the sky. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson says it sounds like the blasts came from an area close to Gadhafi's palace. He describes hearing loud explosions of unknown origin, that he says, shook the ground. Today strikes in Libya swift and deliberate. They come just two days after the U.N. imposed a no- fly zone over that country.

LEMON: So here are a couple of questions for you. How has it all happened so fast for a leader who's ruled for so long?


LEMON (voice over): Freedom's cry erupted in Tunisia, deposing a dictator. Engulfed Egypt, ousting a president and swept across Libya, virtually unrestrained until colliding with a defiant Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.

GADHAFI (through translator): We are prepared to break any aggression by the people, the armed people.

LEMON: By mid-February anti-Gadhafi forces had taken strategic towns in the east of the country, including Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, where one of Gadhafi's palaces had been trashed by dissidents. Ill-equipped, largely untrained, but not afraid to risk their lives for freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allah, Akbar! Allah, Akbar!

LEMON: Some died, nearly 1,000 by one account. Gadhafi fought hard turning air strikes and live ammunition against civilians. The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved sanctions on Libya. There were some calls for direct action. SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I) CONNECTICUT: I would begin with the imposition of a no-fly zone so that Gadhafi can't be attacking his own people from the air.

LEMON: In Libya, on the day after the U.N. vote, there were deadly clashes over control of the rebel-held towns of Zawiya and Misurata, west of the capital. Days later, in the east, two towns controlled by dissidents, El Brega and Ajdabiya, were bombed for the second straight day; followed by a report that the government was once again in control of Zawiya. And at the center of the conflict sat Gadhafi, defiant.

GADHAFI (through translator): Thousands and thousands of people will be killed.

LEMON: Determined.

GADHAFI (through translator): I came here in order to greet you, greet your courage and I tell you to repel them.

LEMON: And at times, delusional.

GADHAFI (through translator): All my people with me, they love me, all.

LEMON: Meanwhile, Libya became a no man's land for foreigners, including the country's vast number of foreign guest workers. Some 200,000 are said to have fled. Many across the border with Tunisia, creating a mass refugee crisis. The airports were swamped by polyglot mobs, scrambling to get out. This week, as Libyan government forces began retaking towns held by rebels, the United Nations voted to impose a no-fly zone over the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This resolution should send a strong message to colonel Gadhafi and his regime.


LEMON: And for more on the fighting in Libya and what we can expect in the next phase of Operation Odyssey Dawn, we want to bring in CNN contributor and retired General Russel Honore. He joins us now from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

General, you were live with us when we saw those anti-aircraft gun fire going off, those explosions. Now hearing that Britain is now involved launching its own missiles, as well. And your assessment from now and then, has anything changed?

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think one key thing, Don, I think the big attack came at night. We own the night, coalition forces. We have precision weapons. We can operate from a standoff difference than the satellite coverage will be doing some significant battle damage reports going in to the next hours. And then I think you will see the coalition forces go after logistics. He cannot run that battle in Benghazi without the logistics. He'll have to fill those tanks up tomorrow. He will start to run low logistics because they will close the roads leading out, and we'll see those logistic trucks going forward with fuel and then ammunition, over.

VAUSE: And General, it's John Vause here.

There have been some reports in the last couple of hours that the international coalition is, in fact, working with the rebel military council in Benghazi. I don't know if you can comment on that, but would that make sense to you? Do you think the rebels are in a position to help the international coalition as they enforce this U.N. resolution?

HONORE: Absolutely. They are the eyes on the ground, as well as the separation of forces in Benghazi. That will be very critical for that communication to be happening, over.

LEMON: You talked about precision weapons and owning the night. Take us forward in this operation, General. What might we expect next?

HONORE: I think what you will expect next is more precision fires on his logistics and his command and control, to degrade it, and to -- another night of attacks, which will hopefully break the will of his army to understand they can't win.

LEMON: And as light starts to come up in Libya, the people of Libya, obviously, many of them are in harm's way just because, this is how -- this is how this works. Some civilians may possibly be hit. An official there, in the government, saying that civilians were hit already, hospitals, and what have you. Talk to us about the people there. What are they waking up to?

HONORE: Obviously, the people are not the target, Don, because if they were we would cut the lights out. They would not have electricity for days and nights to come. We did not cut the lights out, which means we didn't go after his critical infrastructure, we did not go after his water plants. We did not go after any critical buildings such or any bridges that might be involved. We went after military targets, focusing on his acquisition capability, meaning his radars, and his army command and control.

So, there will be a lot of chaos in Tripoli in days to come with this consistent pressure to prevent any movement in and out of that city with any military equipment.

VAUSE: And that continues to be a propaganda war underway in Libya. State television showing some very nationalistic images from -- these are those images right now. This is the rally in support of Moammar Gadhafi. No idea when this actually happened, but this is what Libyans who are watching state TV right now are seeing, at 41 minutes past 5:00 in the morning on Sunday.

General Honore, one thing which I'd like to ask you is, there is a lot of concern out there even from the U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, about the end game here. How long does this go on for? How do they get out of this?

HONORE: Well, this is a new kind of campaign. When you look at the previous campaigns we have gone into, we had some clarity about what the clear purpose was. I think there's some risk in the unknown, and yet there's an opportunity, because the guy that is worried the most is Gadhafi. Will they come after him next with the right targeting?

LEMON: Talk to us about what we're seeing on Libyan television, as well. This is really a propaganda campaign. He is using every resource at hand to try to win some of the people back and win some support. And to show that the coalition forces, at least in his estimation, are attacking innocents.

HONORE: Yeah. You are still at the point where he's trying to control the minds of his people, but you know with the amount of communications we have now, with people with the internet capability, to call-it's just a bluff. I think Saddam did the same thing as we were attacking him, showing those military films.

VAUSE: General, do you think that the military intervention currently under way by the international coalition, do you think that this is enough to level the playing field on the ground in Libya, so that the opposition now has a fighting chance against Gadhafi's forces? Or has it gone too far for that? There needs to be a lot more military action before they can actually fight back?

HONORE: I think we'll see in the next 24 to 48 hours, and I think you will see also a lot of people who still have contacts with Gadhafi reaching out to him, and trying to convince him to leave before ending up getting himself killed.

LEMON: All right, General Russel Honore, Retired General Russel Honore joining us from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

As we look at the images--thanks to him-as we look at those images from Libyan television it is unbelievable, because we are here in the United States and people are watching from around the world. And it would be breaking news, in most places on earth, if you had air strikes going on. But here you see people really in celebration.

VAUSE: General Honore really touched on it. There's so many similarities here right now between what happened to Saddam Hussein, in Iraq, and in the two wars there, and what is happening right now in Libya.

LEMON: Uh-huh. Meantime, the world's top diplomats gather for an emergency summit on Libya. Their stern message for Moammar Gadhafi, that's coming up next.


LEMON: The streets of Benghazi are mostly calm, but earlier rebels had to fight to repel an attack by government forces. All this came before the U.S. and Britain started launching cruise missiles against Gadhafi's anti-aircraft defenses. You can see the damage from the battering Benghazi took from Gadhafi's tanks and fighters.

VAUSE: In London, the British government has had especially harsh words for Moammar Gadhafi. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron says his forces are involved to stop a dictator from, quote, "murdering his own people".

LEMON: And John, CNN's Jim Boulden joins us now live from our London bureau.

John-Jim, excuse me-what's the word from there? What are you hearing?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, now we know that this has become a two-pronged attack as far as British forces are concerned. As you said earlier, we knew that Tomahawk missiles had been fired from a submarine. But now the Ministry of Defense has added to that as well, and said that cruise missiles have been launched from Tornado fighters.

Now, what is interesting is these fighters flew all the way from the Royal Air Force base in Norfolk, to Libya, and back. That is some 3,000 miles. And this is the longest range bombing mission for the Royal Air Force since the Falklands War in 1982.

So now we have Tomahawk missiles and these and cruise missiles, the planes have obviously returned back to Norfolk and they have released that statement to us.

As you said earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister David Cameron came out of No. 10 Downing Street to explain to the British people why these missions are taking place. Let's listen to that.


DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: Tonight, British forces are in action over Libya. They are part of an international coalition that is come together to enforce the will of the United Nations and to protect the Libyan people. We have all seen the appalling brutality that Colonel Gadhafi has meted out against his own people and far from introducing the cease-fire he spoke about, he's actually stepped up the attacks and the brutality that we can all see. So what we are doing is necessary, it is legal, and it is right.


BOULDEN: We've also had a statement from the Defense Secretary Liam Fox, said that we've made it clear if Gadhafi does not comply with U.N. Security Council resolution it would be enforced through military and the armed forces participated in a coordinated international strike against key military installations-guys.

Jim, we are in uncharted territory with British politics in the sense that the government seems to have the full support of the opposition political parties and they seem to be quite prepared for if not a protracted campaign at least a length think one.

BOULDEN: Yes. I think it's clear that the opposition and many members, of course, of Mr. Cameron's party itself, coalition, supported the move. He's been the leader in many ways for the push of the no -- for all the push going on there and, you know, instead of the U.S. being out front of this, it's been certainly Britain and France. And that's why David Cameron made it very clear statement in front of Downing Street to make it clear that it's not just Britain's supporting in the supporting role and trying to lead out front.

VAUSE: OK. Jim Boulden live for us in a very early morning there for us in London. Thank you, Jim.

LEMON: All right. We are following developments on another major story happening. Of course, we have not forgotten about Japan. If you wonder whether the owners of the Fukushima Power Plant are being truthful about what went wrong, you are not alone.

VAUSE: CNN spoke with an evacuated worker who has serious doubts about what his bosses have been saying. You will hear from him next.


LEMON: Let's turn now to the crisis in Japan. A strong aftershock early Saturday north of Tokyo rattled walls and nerves, it measured 6.1. At least 600 aftershocks have struck Japan in the past week.

VAUSE: The death toll of the March 11 quake and tsunami just keeps rising. Now stands at 7,700. More than 11,000 other people are still missing.

LEMON: And meanwhile, emergency power was turned on to both reactors No. 5 and 6, a critical step in ending the crisis. Reactor No. 3 is being showered almost nonstop with seawater to keep the fuel rods from overheating. The top part of the reactor building blew off in a fiery explosion several days ago.

VAUSE: Government officials say samples of milk and spinach from near the power plant show a spike in radioactive iodide. The measurement is higher than normal and officials say that the trace amounts do not pose a health risk.

LEMON: Let's talk more about that, John. The Fukushima nuclear plant has been evacuated except for a core group trying to fix the badly damaged facility. CNN's Stan Grant spoke with some of the evacuated workers, at least one says he doesn't believe plant officials are telling the truth about what happened.


STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It looks a forbidding place. A heavy black sky and waves slapping into the rocks. Flashing lights warn planes there's a nuclear power plant here. It isn't (AUDIO GAP) clear across the island on the Japan's west coast. But it's here evacuated workers from the stricken Daiichi plant have found refuge. A haunting reminder of that day, a little over a week ago, when the ocean floor cracked open and a wave of water turned their lives upside down.



GRANT: It was a moment this worker will never forget.


GRANT: Earthquake?


(Through translator): It kept going for two or three minutes. I told everyone to get out of here. I was scared.

GRANT: He doesn't want to be identified. What he has to say he fears could cost him his job. For 17 years he said he worked for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, at the now crippled plant. He worries especially about the spent fuel rods in the stricken reactor No. 4, potentially in a pool drained of water. Very, very dangerous he says. He sees the fires and explosions, and the damage and asks himself, are his bosses hiding something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through Translator): If you watch TV, they say they're sharing the facts but I doubt it. And right now, they say they're taking readings within 20 or 30 kilometer radius, but I hope they expand that. Personally, I have doubts about what they are telling us.

GRANT: This is just one man's opinion and officials in Japan assure people that radiation levels are not harmful. But this worker knows intimately the Daiichi plant, its design and its people, and he fears the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm aware everyone, the Japanese government, the IAEA and the self-defense force is trying hard to get this problem fixed. But I'm not sure. I hope -- I really hope things will go better, or at least not get any worse.

GRANT: This father of two young children thought he'd lost everything when the quake struck.

GRANT: Crying?


GRANT: His eyes tear up as he tells me how for six hours he lost all phone contact, how he held his family tight when he finally made it home. Now, he wonders if he can ever feel safe in Fukushima again, if he is putting his children at risk.

But where will he work? The Daiichi plant is all he knows. His is an uncertain life. For now, home is a relief shelter in the shadow of another nuclear plant.

(On camera): In a place like this, how can the Fukushima workers and their families ever forget their fears? What they've been through and what may lie ahead.

(Voice over): These are dark days for Japan. But if there's one light for this one man, he is alive, and he has his family close. Stan Grant, CNN, Kashiwazaki, Japan.


VAUSE: Just incredible to think the challenges ahead for all of the people in Japan after the earthquake and the tsunami.

LEMON: Yeah. As well as Libya, now.

VAUSE: Yeah. We are continuing to follow the situation in Libya. I'm John Vause.

LEMON: I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Our special coverage of TARGET LIBYA continues with Fionnuala Sweeney from CNN International. Just ahead.

Good night.

VAUSE: Good night.