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How French jets saved Libya's rebels at the last minute

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Allies strike in the nick of time

Beginning Saturday afternoon and extending beyond this Sunday morning, dozens of international sorties flew over Libya and targeted the army Qaddafi sent to retake Benghazi.

Sunday, at least a dozen of his tanks, armored personnel carriers, and the countless civilian cars he used to transport troops were smoldering hulks on the the road from Benghazi to Ajdabiya, and the pendulum here had once again swung back – for what felt like the fourth time in a week – from despair to joy.

At the western outskirts of Benghazi today, as many residents who had fled returned home, a celebrating group of young men had set a dog astride a donkey.“That’s Qaddafi,” says a grinning young man, pointing at the larger animal, “and that’s his owner,” he says, pointing at the dog.

On the road toward Adjabiya, Benghazi residents came to see the wreckage, celebrate, and pose children in front of the remains of Qaddafi's tanks for the family scrapbook.

Decisive role

The international community has now taken a decisive role in Libya’s civil war, despite the statements of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and other Western officials that this is only about civilian protection, not regime change.

In Benghazi today, the leaders of the rebel’s ragtag army were drawing up plans for how to move west, and civilian leaders were once again confidently predicting Qaddafi’s demise.

Mustafa Gheriani, the spokesman for the rebels transitional government in Benghazi, says their forces were sweeping up scattered bands of Qaddafi’s troops in the city throughout the day.

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