POSTED: Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:24pm
UPDATED: Monday, March 21, 2011 - 7:19pm
SANTIAGO, Chile — SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - President Barack Obama says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi "has to go," but he says that's not the goal of the international military effort against Libyan government forces.
The United States has fired close to 150 cruise missiles against Libyan targets in the past three days, including one that hit inside the compound in Tripoli where Gadhafi and his family live.
Speaking at a news conference during a visit to Chile, Obama said the strikes are carrying out the U.N. mandate to establish a no-fly zone over Libya and protect civilians from massacre by forces loyal to Gadhafi.
Obama says Gadhafi has been "carrying out murders of civilians" and has "threatened more."
The president says he's had no second thoughts about beginning the air offensive while he was traveling outside the United States.
But he says the U.S. will transfer leadership of the operation to other, unnamed participants within a "matter of days."