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Wednesday, the Libyan army gave inhabitants of the rebel-held city of Benghazi what appeared to be under an hour to flee rebel-held areas before the army moved in. The promised assault, however, did not occur. Now, as of 1:44 ET, the BBC is reporting that Qaddafi's forces have "launched their first bombing raids" on Benghazi: "Reports say the targets included the city's airport at Benina."* If said reports are true, then the bombing comes--dramatically--as the Security Council meets in New York to discuss implementing a no-fly zone to stop the carnage and possibly authorizing air strikes in Libya.

Earlier this afternoon, Muammar Qaddafi told the people of Benghazi in a radio address that forces would be moving in tonight, and every house searched (Reuters).

*The above image, from the AP, shows smoke rising from the Benina airport.



4:54 pm: We've added the image, above, from the AP, which shows smoke rising from the airport at Benina, consistent with the BBC reports of this being an early target for the pro-Qaddafi forces in the first round of bombing.

4:35 pm:  A taste of what may be to come, looking at the text of Qaddafi's afternoon address, reported by Reuters:

"We will come zenga, zenga. House by house, room by room." ... "It's over. The issue has been decided," Gaddafi said, offering pardon to those who lay down their arms. "We are coming tonight...We will have no mercy and no pity with them."

4:05pm: The BBC is reporting via Twitter that "French Prime Minister Francois Fillon says Paris wants to see military action" against Qaddafi "within hours" of a resolution being approved. Though some, as The Guardian's Simon Tisdall pointed out Wednesday, have accused the French of "back[ing] intervention in Libya ... to bolster traditional French influence in a post-awakening north Africa," others will probably find the Gallic aggression refreshing after so much foot-dragging from the Germans and Americans--particularly with the prospect of a leveled Benghazi on the horizon.

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