The US and European nations pounded Moammar Gadhafi's forces and air defenses with cruise missiles and airstrikes Saturday, launching the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war in support of an uprising that had seemed on the verge of defeat.
Libyan state TV claimed 48 people had been killed in the attacks, but the report could not be independently verified.
The longtime Libyan leader vowed to defend his country from what he called "crusader aggression" and warned the involvement of international forces will subject the Mediterranean and North African region to danger and put civilians at risk.
Operation Odyssey Dawn, as the allied assault has been dubbed, followed an emergency summit in Paris during which the 22 leaders and top officials agreed to do everything necessary to make Gadhafi respect a UN Security Council resolution on Thursday calling for the no-fly zone and demanding a cease-fire, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.
Image: This Saturday, March 19, 2011 photo provided by the US Navy shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) as it launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn from the Mediterranean Sea. (Photographs copyright AP)