U.S. to withdraw strike jets from Libya mission

BRUSSELS - (AP) - The U.S. military will pull its warplanes from front-line missions Monday and shift to a support role in the Libyan conflict, a NATO official said.

Britain, France and other NATO allies will now provide the fighter and attack jets to conduct intercept and ground attack missions as they enforce a no-fly zone over this North African country.

The hand-over is expected to take place later on Monday, a NATO official said.

"There won't be a capabilities gap," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of regulations.

Last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Congress the U.S. would continue to provide assets that others don't have in sufficient numbers. These will likely include AWACS air surveillance planes, electronic reconnaissance aircraft and aerial refueling tankers.

American air power - including Air Force AC-130 gunships and A-10 Thunderbolts and Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers - will still be available to back up the allies in case of need.

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