Libyans paint the old Libyan flag in a square in the eastern dissident-held city of Benghazi on February 26, 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama urged Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to leave power immediately since he has lost his "legitimacy to rule." UPI\Mohamad Shaikhi | License Photo
WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. military is deploying assets in a position to help respond to the crisis unfolding in Libya, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.
Clinton returned Tuesday to Washington to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on ongoing foreign policy concerns. She had spent time with Western allies in Geneva discussing the steps needed to address Libyan turmoil.
She told U.S. lawmakers in her prepared remarks Tuesday that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must leave power without more bloodshed and without delay.
Conservative estimates put the death toll in Libya at more than 1,000. Gadhafi's regime was sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council for the violent repression of anti-government protests.
U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday from Bahrain, home of the U.S. 5th Fleet, that he was examining "all" of the options available to address the situation in Libya.
Clinton echoed those sentiments, telling lawmakers that U.S. military commanders were positioning assets to prepare to support a humanitarian mission.
"And we are taking no options off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to turn its guns on its own people," she said.
Western allies are considering imposing a no-fly zone over Libya to deter the Gadhafi regime from using its air force to fire on demonstrators.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Monday with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss the international response to the unrest spilling across the Arab world.
"We agreed that the international community must stand firmly together during this historic transition toward a more democratic, secure and prosperous Middle East," said Ban in a statement.