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France Provides Weapons, Food to Libyan Rebels


A rebel fighter carries large caliber ammunition on the front line, 18 km (11 miles) west of Ajdabiyah, Libya, June 27, 2011

A rebel fighter carries large caliber ammunition on the front line, 18 km (11 miles) west of Ajdabiyah, Libya, June 27, 2011

French military officials say they aided Libyan rebels this month with weapons, munitions and food in their battle against government forces in the western Libyan mountains.

Western news agencies on Wednesday quote unidentified French military officials confirming a Le Figaro newspaper reports of "large amounts" of weapons parachuted into the Jebel Nafusa region.

Rebels on Sunday made gains in the mountains against forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

On Tuesday, rebels said they captured a large arms depot from Gadhafi's forces, boosting critical resupply efforts and fueling an opposition push toward the capital, Tripoli.

Hundreds of rebel fighters Tuesday combed through the weapons cache, a portion of which had exploded following a NATO bombing. But much remained intact, and a long rebel vehicle convoy left loaded with rockets, ammunition, high-caliber guns and assault rifles.

Insurgents also seized dozens of military vehicles at the desert site, some 20 kilometers southeast of Zintan, following clashes with loyalist troops.

Meanwhile, Britain said a new report by a team planning for a post-conflict Libya recommends that Gadhafi's security forces be left intact after a rebel victory, avoiding what many view as a critical error made after the Iraq war.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said Tuesday that in the areas of security and justice, the report stresses the importance of maximizing the use of "existing structures." He also said the United Nations is looking into sending an unarmed peacekeeping force into Libya once the conflict ends.

His remarks came a day after the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi and two top lieutenants on war crimes charges.

The court's chief prosecutor said he is optimistic Gadhafi's government would fall within two or three months.

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

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