As French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil (right) on Wednesday, France joined Britain and Italy in announcing it will send military advisers to help Libyan rebel leaders fighting Muammar Gaddafi's army.
France said on Wednesday that it will send a small military liaison team to play an advisory role to rebel leaders in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, but says it is not considering putting ground troops on the battlefield.
The move comes a day after France’s key ally Britain announced it would be sending around a dozen military advisers to Libya. Italy also said on Wednesday that it would be sending a team to help train the rebels.
French foreign ministry spokeswoman Christine Fage told reporters that the liaison team’s role was to support the rebel Transitional National Council with “technical, logistical and organisational advice to reinforce the protection of civilians”.
The French deployment will be “less than 10 officers”, government spokesman François Baroin added.
The announcement came as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister François Fillon hosted the leader of Libya’s Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, for talks at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris.
France on Wednesday also vowed to intensify its air strikes against the Gaddafi regime in a bid to help the rebels make progress on the ground.
Liaison team only
FRANCE 24’s Cyril Vanier, reporting from the presidential palace, said there are many voices in Libya’s rebel camp calling for more support on the ground to end the stalemate against Gaddafi’s army.
“Some rebel leaders are now beginning to ask for foreign troops on the ground, especially in Misrata,” he said, in reference to a fierce siege in the western Libyan town that has raged for seven weeks and claimed hundreds of lives.
“But the French have reiterated that there will be no French military intervention on Libyan soil,” he said. “This is a liaison team.”
Both France and Britain say that sending military advisers to Libya does not contravene UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which gave the green light to using air strikes to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians in Libya but rules out any “foreign occupying force” in the country.
Date created : 2011-04-20