France Joins Britain in Sending Military Advisers to Libya's Rebels

Published on Wednesday 20th April 2011

France is joining Britain in sending military advisers to Libya to help rebel forces.A spokesman for the French government announced the move Wednesday as French President Nicolas Sarkozy prepared to meet the head of Libya's rebels, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, in Paris.The meeting was expected to focus on efforts to bring about a democratic transition in Libya. Fighting, meanwhile, continued Wednesday between rebel and pro-government forces at the besieged city of Misrata, where residents are pleading for international intervention. NATO airstrikes again struck government installations in several cities,On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said an experienced team of about a dozen British military advisers would help rebels work on organization, logistics and communications.Hague said the advisers would not take part in any fighting, nor train or arm the opposition.  He said the group would expand the work of British diplomats already in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.Libya’s foreign minister, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi says the move will would harm chances for peace in the country. In an interview with the BBC, Obeidi called for a cease-fire followed by a six month period to prepare for an election.Leaders in the rebel-held western city of Misrata called for the urgent intervention of foreign ground troops to protect the 500,000 civilians there, the first such request by anyone among Libya's opposition forces.The rebels' civilian leadership, the Transitional National Council, has however rejected the presence of foreign troops on Libyan soil to help their cause.Nouri Abdallah Abdel Ati, a member of Misrata's leadership committee, said Tuesday that if foreign forces do not arrive immediately, "we will die." Abdel Ati said the recent use by pro-Gadhafi forces of Grad rockets to shell civilians had created a "life or death situation."


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