British and French military aircraft are preparing to protect the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi after the UN security council voted in favour of a no-fly zone and air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's forces. With Gaddafi's troops closing in on Benghazi, the French prime minister, Franois Fillon, said "time is of the essence" and that France would support military action within hours of the vote. But a US official was more cautious, warning against expectations of imminent action. French planes will operate from bases on its Mediterranean coast. Several Arab countries have promised to join the operation. The US backed the resolution, a complete turnaround after weeks of resisting no-fly zone proposals, but has not yet said what role it would play in military action. The 15-member security council voted in favour of a resolution authorising all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack, in particular Benghazi. Ten members voted in favour, with five abstaining, including China, Russia and Germany. The resolution ruled out putting troops on the ground. Rebels in Benghazi celebrated in the streets after the no-fly vote was announced. Gaddafi called the vote "flagrant colonisation" and warned of dire consequences. "This is craziness, madness, arrogance," he told the Portuguese TV channel. RTP. "If the world gets crazy with us, we will get crazy too. We will respond."