(photo: Crethi Plethi)

Claiming his government “takes great interest in protecting civilians,” Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa has just declared an “an immediate stop to all military operations.”

The announcement was made within the last half-hour, and shortly after statements by both French and British leaders that airstrikes on Libya would begin “within hours.” The airstrikes were authorized by last night’s vote in the United Nations Security Council.

Reports on the ground, however, paint a different picture. A Libyan opposition leader, Saadoon al-Misraty, calling into Public Radio International’s “The Takeaway,” reports that the city of Misrata is still being shelled.

British PM David Cameron said that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will be “judged by his deeds, not his words.”

The BBC is reporting that four New York TImes reporters gone missing earlier this week in Libya have ben found, but the Times has yet to confirm this. (at this link–warning, active video stream.)

We will have more as it becomes available.

[update: David has a little more.]