Libya rebels no longer need French arms drops: Paris

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Rebels fighting Libyan ruler Moamer Kadhafi no longer need France to drop weapons to them since they are getting more organised and can arrange to arm themselves, Paris said Tuesday.

"There is emerging a political order distinct from that of Tripoli," French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet told reporters.

"The (rebel) territories are organising their autonomy... That is why the parachute drops are no longer necessary."

He added: "This autonomy allows them to establish relations with outside partners, including when it comes to self-defence.

"But that is not the business of the coalition and it is not the business of of resolution 1973," one of the UN Security Council resolutions under which France and NATO allies launched strikes on Kadhafi's military sites.

France said last week that it supplied light arms including rifles and rocket launchers to the rebels for "self-defence" in line with a UN resolution and that it informed NATO and the Security Council of its plan to do so.

Russia had criticised the arms drops and France's NATO ally Britain had expressed reservations.

UN Security Council Resolution 1970, passed in February, prohibited states from providing any kind of arms to Libya. Resolution 1973 in March authorised nations "to take all necessary measures" to help protect civilians.

Longuet was cautious about the rebels' chances of defeating Kadhafi in a major planned offensive on Tripoli.

They have a "growing capacity to organise politically and militarily" but are "currently not in a stabilised, centralised system," he said.

Kadhafi's government said on Monday that its forces intercepted two boats in waters west of Tripoli loaded with weapons from Qatar.

© 2011 AFP

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