The UN Security Council voted on Thursday to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" - code for military action - to protect civilians against leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces.
Ten of the council's 15 member states voted in favor of the resolution, with Russia, China and Germany the five that abstained. There were no votes against the resolution, which was co-sponsored by France, Britain, Lebanon and the United States.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said if the resolution was approved, France would support military action against Gadhafi within hours. The US said it was preparing for action.
Gaddafi said in an interview broadcast Thursday on Portuguese public broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa that he rejected any UN threats of action.
"The UN Security Council has no mandate," Gaddafi said. "We don't acknowledge their resolutions."
He warned that any military action would be construed as "colonization without any justification" and would have "grave repercussions."
The text of the resolution calls on nations to "establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians."
It also authorizes UN member states to take "all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."
Earlier, the head of the rebel council said Libyan rebels will stand firm and will not be deterred by threats made by Gaddafi to attack Benghazi - where the council is based.
Gaddafi said his armed forces were going to the rebel capital Benghazi on Thursday night and would not show any mercy to fighters who resisted them.
"We stand on firm ground. We will not be intimidated by these lies and claims," Libyan National Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil told Al Jazeera television.
"We will not settle for anything but liberation for this country's people from this regime," he said. "Our rebels and their determination are capable of defeating them."
Fighting in Libya (Photo: Reuters)
The rebels had moved westward from their stronghold of Benghazi earlier this month, but over the past 10 days or so have been rolled back as a series of coastal towns, several with oil terminals, were retaken by Gaddafi's better equipped forces.
Fighting has raged in Ajdabiyah, which stands at the gateway to the east with roads leading north to Benghazi or a desert route to Tobruk, the last major oil terminal still in rebel control.
Threatened. Rebels in Benghazi (Photo: Tsur Shezaf)
"Libyan cities from Ajdabiyah and all of the east are under rebel control," Abdel Jalil said.
Reuters, AP contributed to the report
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