France confirms helicopters used in Libya attack

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France confirmed Saturday that its attack helicopters had been used for the first time in NATO raids on Libya.

French Tigre and Gazelle craft were engaged alongside British Apache helicopters in raids on Libya overnight, France's military chiefs said.

NATO said earlier the raids were the first time it had used attack helicopters in Libya, striking military vehicles, military equipment and forces backing embattled leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi.

A spokesman for the French military chiefs, Thierry Brukhard, said the copters destroyed around 20 targets and drew light arms fire from forces on the ground but were not damaged.

Britain's defence ministry confirmed earlier that Apaches had been used in the mission.

London and Paris said last month they would contribute attack helicopters to the Libya mission, basing the choppers respectively on the helicopter carriers Tonnerre of France and Britain's HMS Ocean.

The Tonnerre was also transporting a dozen Gazelle helicopters that are older than the Tigres, an alliance military official said.

© 2011 AFP

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