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France, Italy Join UK In Sending Military Officials To Libya

David McAlpine |
April 20, 2011 | 11:31 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (Photo via Creative Commons)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (Photo via Creative Commons)
Italian and French officials announced Wednesday that they would be joining the United Kingdom in sending military officers into Libya to advise rebels attempting to get rid of Col. Moammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader.

The move comes while heavy fire from Gaddafi's forces continues to rain down on Misurata, cornering rebels in the city. French President Nicolas Sarkozy also announced Wednesday that France would intensify its airstrikes on the city because of the rebels' current situation.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Libyan rebel chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil met with Sarkozy as Western powers struggle to break a deadlock in the two-month conflict. He had been expected to ask for an increase in NATO airstrikes but also might name officials in Tripoli whom the opposition would be willing to deal with if Kadafi stepped down, a source close to the opposition said.

After the Paris meeting, a presidential aide quoted Sarkozy as saying: "We will intensify the strikes." The aide was not authorized to be publicly named according to presidential policy.

France's Foreign Ministry also said Wednesday it already has military liaison officers on the ground in the rebel-held city of Benghazi. No number was given. Britain announced Tuesday that it was sending up to 20 military advisers to help Libya's rebel forces. France and Britain led the push for international intervention in Libya.

With the stepped up measures to help with NATO's peacekeeping efforts, Western officials insist that these are the greatest steps they're willing to take. Both French and British officials insisted ground troops from their armies are not an option.

CNN reported:

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet again ruled out sending ground troops to fight alongside the rebels. "This is a real issue that deserves an international debate," he said, adding, "We are working within the framework of the 1973 resolution," a reference to the U.N. resolution that authorized action in Libya. "You cannot please everyone all the time," he said.

Italy will send military advisers to train the rebels in self-defense tactics, Italian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari announced.



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