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Britain Sends Body Armor to Libyan Rebels


British Foreign Secretary William Hague listens to a question during a press conference in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Libya, May 4, 20 (file photo)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague listens to a question during a press conference in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Libya, May 4, 20 (file photo)

Britain says it is sending body armor, police uniforms and communications equipment to Libyan rebels fighting against forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday his country is supplying 5,000 sets of body armor, 6,650 police uniforms and 5,000 high-visibility vests to police loyal to Libya's opposition Transitional National Council. He said the equipment will allow police to "carry out their functions more securely and better protect" opposition representatives and the international aid communities in rebel-controlled areas.

Britain's announcement comes a day after France defended its move to airlift weapons to Libyan rebels. France said it did not break a United Nations arms embargo because the munitions were needed to defend civilians under threat.

The French ambassador to the U.N.,Gerard Araud, said that Paris had acted under a provision of the Security Council resolution adopted in March that imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized military action to protect civilians.

Earlier Wednesday, French officials confirmed a Le Figaro newspaper report saying that "large amounts" of weapons, munitions and food were parachuted into the Jebel Nafusa region of western Libya for rebel use in their battles against pro-government forces.

In the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi played down reports of rebel advances, saying the situation in the western mountains is "under control."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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