Sudan allows overflights for Libya ops: diplomats

Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:27am GMT

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sudan has quietly granted permission to use its airspace to nations enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya as U.S., French, British and other air forces try to pummel the Libyan military, envoys told Reuters.

The United Nations has said nearly a dozen countries have notified Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon they would be involved in the Libya operations to protect civilians under siege in the North African state. Only two Arab countries are on that list, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

But U.N. diplomats familiar with the coalition operations over Libya said there were a number of countries quietly cooperating with the coalition to enable the no-fly zone to happen. One of those countries, they said, was Sudan.

"Sudan has given permission to use its airspace," a diplomat told Reuters this week. Another diplomat confirmed it, adding Sudan was not alone.

It was not immediately clear what other countries were allowing the coalition to pass through their airspace.

The news of Sudan's participation comes as Western warplanes hit military targets deep inside Libya on Thursday but failed to prevent tanks re-entering the western town of Misrata and besieging its main hospital.

The airstrikes are part of a U.N.-authorized military operation to prevent forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from attacking civilians as he attempts to crush a rebellion in eastern Libya that has split the country in two.

Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, neither confirmed nor denied that Khartoum had granted permission to coalition air forces.   Continued...

<p>A British Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado aircraft lands at Gioia del Colle NATO Airbase in southern Italy on March 24, 2011. European Union Heads of States and Government will discuss the situation in Libya and the eurozone debt crisis, among other issues, during the two-day summit in Brussels. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito</p>
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