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The vote - 10-0, with five abstentions from Russia, China, Brazil, Germany and India - will allow foreign enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya and ground Colonel Gaddafi's air force, reportedly as early as today.
Jubilant insurgents at the rebel stronghold of Benghazi greeted the news with cheers, singing and gunfire.
Advertisement: Story continues below The BBC reported that attacks on forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi by the British and French air forces could begin within hours of the UN passing resolution 1973/2011, with anti-aircraft defences the likely first targets.