The UN Security Council vote authorising a no-fly zone, and “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, prompted thousands of Gaddafi opponents in Benghazi to take to the streets in celebration.
There was little sign of fear of an imminent attack from government forces in the rebel stronghold. Crowds reportedly shouted “1-2-3, thank you Sarkozy” in recognition of the French president’s drive to impose a no-fly zone.
Some waved Egyptian flags. The Libyan leader has accused rebels of having foreign backing.
His son Saif has suggested that only a minority of people in Benghazi are against his father.
There was more joy in the eastern city of Tobruk, where fireworks lit the sky in response to the UN’s move.