New coalition member flies first sortie enforcing no-fly zone over Libya

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Qatar, the newest member to the coalition supporting the enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, flew its first operational sortie today as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

A Qatari Emiri Air Force Mirage 2000-5 flew alongside a French Mirage 2000-5 as part of a formation patrolling one sector of the airspace to prevent the Qadhafi regime from attacking Libyan citizens. Qatar deployed six Mirage 2000-5 and two C-17As to Europe supporting the Franco-Qatari detachment and delivering humanitarian assistance as part of their participation in the operation focused on protecting the Libyan people.

Qatar joins the growing coalition enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. The other nations directly involved in enforcing the NFZ are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States. The United Arab Emirates on March 24 announced its intention to join the coalition, but is not yet flying aircraft.

"We are very happy to have the Qatar Emiri Air Force become part of our coalition team," stated Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, the Joint Force Air Component Commander for Operation Odyssey Dawn. "Having our first Arab nation join and start flying with us emphasizes that the world wants the innocent Libyan people protected from the atrocities perpetrated by pro-regime forces. Our efforts have been effective in protecting the citizens from fear of an air attack. We will continue our efforts for as long as it takes for Qadhafi to comply with the conditions established in the U.N. Security Council Resolution."

Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces. JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III.