France Admits Arming Libyans

Help for rebels technically violates UN arms embargo
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2011 6:55 AM CDT
Libyan rebels celebrate as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi retreat during fighting in Libya's western mountain region of Qalaa on June 7, 2011.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – France has violated the UN arms embargo on Libya to drop assault rifles over the Nafusa Mountains southwest of Tripoli, the country acknowledged last night. A French military spokesman said they’d provided “light arms such as assault rifles” to civilian communities so they could “protect themselves against Colonel Gadhafi,” the Telegraph reports. Rebel forces confirmed the weapons drop, but said it wasn’t clear if their fighters or civilians had the weapons.

The story first broke in Le Figaro, which said the drop had also included machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-tank missiles. “If the rebels can get to the outskirts of Tripoli, the capital will take the chance to rise against Gadhafi,” it quoted an official as saying. Despite the general arms embargo over the country, NATO says it believes the drops are legal under the same UN resolution authorizing their air campaign.

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