Britain sending military advisers to aid Libya rebels

19th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain is sending military officers to help Libyan rebels improve their organisation, communications and logistics, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday.

He said the "military liaison advisory team" would not be involved in training or arming the rebels fighting Moamer Kadhafi's regime, nor would it help plan their military operations.

In a statement, Hague said the government had agreed to send a contingent "drawn from experienced British military officers" to reinforce the diplomatic team already in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the rebels are based.

Hague insisted the deployment was "fully within the terms" of the UN Security Council Resolution on Libya that authorised international air strikes to protect civilians from fighting between Kadhafi's forces and the rebels.

"These additional personnel will enable the UK to build on the work already being undertaken to support and advise the TNC (Transitional National Council) on how to better protect civilians," he said.

"In particular they will advise the TNC on how to improve their military organisational structures, communications and logistics, including how best to distribute humanitarian aid and deliver medical assistance."

Britain had in recent weeks decided to supply the rebels with "non-lethal assistance" to help them protect civilians, including telecommunications equipment and protective body armour, Hague added.

The UN resolution expressly forbids any foreign occupation of Libyan soil.

"Consistent with our obligations under that resolution, our officers will not be involved in training or arming the opposition's fighting forces," the foreign secretary said.

"Nor will they be involved in the planning or execution of the TNC's military operations or in the provision of any other form of operational military advice."

© 2011 AFP

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