France provided weapons to Libya rebels

Citing unidentified sources, Le Figaro newspaper said on Wednesday France had parachuted “large amounts” of weapons, including rocket launchers, assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles into the Jebel Nafusa region.

The move, it said, was an effort to give impetus to a rebel push towards Gadhafi’s stronghold in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

“There were humanitarian drops because the humanitarian situation was worsening and at one point it seemed the security situation was threatening civilians who could not defend themselves,” said armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard. “France therefore also sent equipment allowing them to defend themselves, comprising light weapons and munitions,” he said, adding that the drop in early June had included medicine and food.

The rebellion against Gadhafi’s 41-year rule has made only slow progress since Nato-led countries began bombing three months ago, but rebels say they are finally advancing closer to the Libyan capital.

Rebels based in the Western Mountains region southwest of the capital made their biggest breakthrough in weeks on Sunday to reach the town of Bir al-Ghanam, where they are now fighting pro-Gadhafi forces.

Figaro said France’s decision to send arms had been taken without consulting its Nato partners and it quoted a high-level source saying it was “because there was no other way to proceed.”

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)