Brits join ground fight in Libya
BRITISH military officers are set to hit the ground in Libya to bolster rebels fighting tyrant Colonel Gaddafi.
(THE SUN) The advisors will go into the country’s second city of Benghazi — the stronghold of the pro-democracy opposition.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said today: “The National Security Council has decided that we will now move quickly to expand the team already in Benghazi to include an additional military liaison advisory team.
“This contingent will be drawn from experienced British military officers.”
Mr Hague said the move was needed to help protect civilians in Libya and was compatible with the United Nations resolution which authorised a no-fly zone.
He said in a statement: “The United Kingdom is strongly committed to the effective implementation of the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973.
“With the Libyan people still faced with continuing attacks by Gaddafi’s forces, the need to protect civilians in Libya is our highest priority.
“UNSCR 1973 authorises member states to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack from Gaddafi.
“The UK’s substantial and early military contribution to the enforcement of UNSCR 1973 has helped saved the lives of thousands of civilians threatened by Gaddafi’s murderous regime.
“As the scale of the humanitarian crisis has grown, so has the urgency of increasing our efforts to defend civilians against the attack from Gaddafi forces.”
Mr Hague described the rebels’ political body, the National Transitional Council (NTC), as “legitimate political interlocutors”.
Britain has supplied body armour and telecommunications equipment to help them take on Gaddafi’s forces.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell yesterday pledged £2million to help stranded civilians flee the war-torn city of Misrata by boat.
Mr Hague said: “We have stepped up our contribution to international efforts to relieve the humanitarian crisis in Libya, in particular in Misrata, and a UK diplomatic team led by Christopher Prentice has been liaising closely with the opposition in Benghazi.
“These additional personnel will enable the UK to build on the work already being undertaken to support and advise the NTC on how to better protect civilians.
“In particular they will advise the NTC on how to improve their military organisational structures, communications and logistics, including how best to distribute humanitarian aid and deliver medical assistance.”
Mr Hague said the deployment is fully within the terms of UNSCR 1973 to protect civilians but also rule out a foreign occupation force on Libyan soil.