France defends arms airlift to Libyan rebels

By REUTERS
June 30, 2011 03:03

 
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NEW YORK/MISRATA - France has defended its move to airlift weapons to Libya's rebels, saying it did not break a UN arms embargo because they were needed to defend civilians under threat.

France on Wednesday became the first NATO country to openly acknowledge arming rebels seeking to topple Muammar Gaddafi, who has so far resisted a three-month-old bombing campaign that has strained alliance and rebel firepower.

The bombing is backed by a UN Security Council resolution authorizing force to protect civilians, but Britain, France and the United States say they will not stop until Gaddafi falls.

Citing unnamed sources, Le Figaro newspaper said France had parachuted rocket launchers, assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles into the Western Mountains in early June.

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