CAIRO-The U.N. Security Council Thursday gave the go-ahead to Britain and France - backed by the U.S. and at least two Arab nations - to launch airstrikes to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and to protect civilians in rebel-held areas from forces loyal to dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The resolution is designed to ground the aircraft that have given Gadhafi's forces a considerable edge over the ragtag rebel forces made up of armed civilians and military defectors.
Jubilant crowds in Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city of 1 million people where the rebellion against Gadhafi erupted a month ago, greeted the news with cheers and fireworks.
The United States, France and Britain - three of the five veto-wielding permanent Security Council members, and seven other countries approved the resolution, which passed by one vote more than was required. China and Russia, the two other permanent members, and three other nations abstained. There were no votes against it.
Airstrikes were expected against dozens of Libyan air defense missile sites to eliminate threats to planes enforcing the no-fly zone.