Share this article

print logo

France, Britain, Italy put advisers in Libya

Europe has moved closer to doing what it said it wouldn't do in Libya -- directly jump into the bid to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi.

France said Wednesday that it already has sent military officers to work with Libyan rebels on the ground, in addition to stepping up airstrikes. Italy and Britain have said they also are sending military officers.

European officials portray their assistance as an effort to fill the military gap with Gadhafi's forces -- and turn the tide without overstepping rules of the U.N.-sanctioned military operation to protect civilians.

The acting foreign minister of the National Transitional Council said the rebel movement's political wing wants more, such as weapons for an "official army" and forces from friendly nations if that's what it takes to topple the Libyan leader.

"We have made no official demand, (but) all possibilities are open," Ali al-Issaoui said at a news conference.

Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the opposition council's visiting president, said rebels already have received arms "but they are not sufficient."

Hours earlier, President Nicolas Sarkozy said France would step up its share of the NATO-led airstrikes aimed at knocking out Gadhafi's military apparatus to protect civilians.

"We will help you," Sarkozy promised Abdel-Jalil, who said he had asked France "to intensify the support accorded to the Libyan revolution."

Italy, too, announced plans to send help -- 10 military instructors -- although Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa, like France, ruled out sending ground troops.

In Washington, the Obama administration said Wednesday it plans to give the Libyan opposition $25 million in nonlethal assistance -- the first direct U.S. aid to the rebels.

There are no comments - be the first to comment