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Wednesday, April 20, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

British officers from special forces sent to advise Libyan rebels

CAIRO — Britain plans to send military officers from special forces to Libya to help the revolt against Col. Moammar Gadhafi.


Officials said the British Army would send officers to the Libyan city of Benghazi to help the rebels. They said the British mission was meant to help the rebels form a fully-fledged military force.

"They will advise the [rebel] National Transitional Council on how to improve their military organizational structures, communications and logistics, including how best to distribute humanitarian aid and deliver medical assistance," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

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Hague, in a statement on April 19, did not say how many advisors would be sent to Benghazi, the headquarters of the Libyan rebel movement. The statement marked the first military contingent by a NATO member in Libya since the alliance's no-fly zone mission, which began in mid-March.

The British military deployment in Libya came amid an admission by NATO that it was unable to stop the advance by Gadhafi forces, Middle East Newsline reported. Despite intensified air operations, Gadhafi's estimated 20,000-member military has continued attacks on major rebel strongholds, including Misrata.

Hague said the British military team would work with Foreign Office personnel already in Benghazi. He said the officers would be deployed quickly, but no timetable was given.

Officials said the team would consist of officers from the British special forces, including the air force and navy. They said the first contingent could contain 20 officers and help coordinate NATO air strikes.

"This contingent will be drawn from experienced British military officers," Hague said.

France has reiterated its opposition to ground troops in Libya. But France has called for an intensification of NATO air strikes.

"We are absolutely opposed to a deployment of troops on the ground," French Foreign Minister Alan Juppe said.

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