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U.S. Welcomes NATO's Decision to Enforce No-Fly Zone Over Libya

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed NATO's decision to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, although it will not take total control of the military operations against Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.

Clinton described NATO as "well-suited to coordinating this international effort."

She also announced that the United Arab Emirates will follow through on its promise to provide warplanes to the effort.

The White House thanked the UAE and called its participation “critical.”

“The UAE further underscores the broad, international support for the protection of the Libyan people," said the White House in a statement.

NATO’s decision comes after days of heated debate, which left some critics calling the effort unorganized.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the decision a "sign of progress," in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was announced in Brussels, the U.S. will hand over command and control of part of the international operation. The U.S. has appeared eager throughout the campaign to pass the baton.

"We are considering whether NATO should take on the broader responsibility in accordance with the U.N. Security Council resolution, but that decision has not been reached yet,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary general.

Rasmussen said the NATO operation would be in concert with the coalition's bombing campaign.

To be sure, the U.S. is likely to continue flying combat missions over the country, even after the decision, said a senior Pentagon official.

The decision was announced as explosions and anti-aircraft fire could be heard for the sixth-straight day in Tripoli.

French fighter jets destroyed a Libyan military plane on the ground after it just landed, amid allegations that forces loyal to Qaddafi violated the country's U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone.

 French military officials said its fighter jets attacked an air base 150 miles inland from the Mediterranean coast overnight. The coalition airstrikes against Libya had been a "success," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Thursday.

Pro-Qaddafi troops continued to strike the western city of Misrata on Thursday but were forced to roll back their tanks periodically after coalition airstrikes. A rebel spokesman tells Reuters that 30 snipers were killed by Libyan rebels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.