The U.S. administration has not ruled out providing military support and arms supplies to Libyan rebels, Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said on Tuesday.
The U.S. goal is "squeezing Gaddafi's resources and cutting off his money, his mercenaries, his arms, providing assistance to the rebels and the opposition," she said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" show.
Asked whether that could include some military support, Rice said: "We have not made that decision, but we've not certainly ruled that out."
According to some media reports, the U.S. has been looking for a legal framework to allow limited supplies of arms to the rebels if they can prove they need them to defend themselves from attack.
Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for Susan Rice, said on March 25 that UN Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, imposing tough measures and a no-fly zone on Libya, "read together, neither specify nor preclude such an action."
A diplomatic official from a coalition member state was quoted by Sky News as saying that the resolution "authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack."
Moscow, which abstained from resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, has urged coalition forces to act strictly within the UN mandate and answer directly to the Security Council.
On Saturday Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin said the alliance, now leading the coalition, risked being caught up in a war in Libya similar to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
NATO began taking command from the United States of all aerial operations to ensure the no-fly zone and an arms embargo in Libya on Sunday. The transfer of authority will take up to three days and should be completed by Wednesday.
Libyan television has reported that dozens of civilians have been killed and wounded in the strikes and that many health and education facilities have been destroyed. Coalition commanders deny the claims.
MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti Alexander Stelliferovsky)