Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Britain, France Deploy Ground Troops in Libya

UK, France deploy ground troops to Libya

Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:8PM GMT

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has confirmed that some of its member countries such as Britain and France may have troops deployed to Libya.

An unnamed NATO official admitted that Britain and France have deployed ground troops inside the Libyan territory, but said it would be "unfair to call them NATO forces."

Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said there is "direct evidence" that British and French Special Forces were carrying out ground operations in Libya in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1973.

The resolution, passed in March, authorized a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said last week the alliance had no troops on the ground in Libya, and would not have any after the regime fell.

"The leading role in the post-Gaddafi period in supporting the Libyan people rests with the United Nations and the Contact Group. NATO will be in a supporting role… NATO will have no troops on the ground," Lungescu told reporters in Brussels.

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox told Sky News last week that the rebels were getting intelligence and reconnaissance assistance from NATO.

Last week, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed that Britain's elite Special Air Service regiment (SAS) were helping the rebels hunt down Col Muammar Gaddafi, whose forces they say have lost control of most of the country including the capital Tripoli.

Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown, though the transitional government says he is still in hiding in Tripoli.

The rebels, who invaded Tripoli a week ago backed up by NATO, have offered a USD1.3 million reward and amnesty from prosecution for anyone who kills or captures Gaddafi.

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