The U.N. Security Council voted on Thursday to authorize the use of force in Libya with the aim of boosting the weakening rebel forces fighting to topple dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi.
The resolution calls for establishing a no-fly zone over Libya, "a ban on all flights in the airspace," according to the Associated Press. The resolution, offered by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Lebanon, also permits countries to use all necessary means to protect civilians, except for occupation forces, and marks a sharp turning point in the battle for political control in the country.
Ten Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution and five abstained; no one voted against it.
Later Thursday, President Obama spoke to British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the White House, and the leaders agreed to work together on what the next steps would be.
Susan Rice, the United States' U.N. ambassador, used strong language to denounce Qaddafi.
"But Colonel [Qaddafi] and those who still stand by him continue to grossly and systematically abuse the most fundamental human rights of Libya’s people," Rice said.
Other ministers, including permanent security council member France, spoke in favor of the resolution as well.
"We cannot allow for international morality to be struck down," said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, speaking before the vote.
After wresting control of the eastern part of Libya, including its second-largest city, Benghazi, rebels have suffered a number of setbacks in recent days, with forces loyal to Qaddafi slowly retaking cities on their way to Benghazi.
In the face of the democratic movement that overtook his country and much of the rest of the Middle East, Qaddafi stood resolutely and violently in opposition. It remains unclear what measures will be taken next to enforce the no-fly zone.