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NATO to Send Expert Mission to Libya

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds news conference at Alliance headquarters, Brussels, April 23, 2013 file photo.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance is sending an expert mission to Libya amid concerns that Islamist militants are expanding their foothold in the country.

Rasmussen said Tuesday the team would depart for Libya as soon as possible and return by the end of June, when a possible, future training mission would be discussed. He said no NATO troops would be deployed to the North African nation.

The move comes after France warned that al-Qaida-linked fighters were attempting to establish themselves in southwest Libya after French forces had pushed them out of neighboring Mali.

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan recently requested help from NATO, the U.S. and other nations to provide training for Libyan troops.

Mostly barren southern areas of Libya have largely gone their own way since the rebellion that overthrew longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

NATO set up a no-fly zone that year to support the fight by Libyan rebels. But the security situation in Libya since then has deteriorated, particularly in vast desert areas outside the government's control.

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