Britain to Send Military Advisers to Aid Libyan Rebels

Britain is sending military advisers to Libya to help the besieged rebel forces.Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday an experienced team of about a dozen military advisers would help rebels work on organization, logistics and communications.Hague said the advisers would not take part in any fighting, nor train or arm the opposition. He said the group would expand the work of British diplomats already in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.Media reports have described the rebels as an undisciplined and disorganized force with infighting among the leadership. The New York Times reported Tuesday that the rebels’ two top generals are feuding with each other over who remains in charge. The Times said Generals Khalifa Hifter and Abdul Fattah Younes both claim ultimate authority over forces in the field and are blaming each other for operational failures.Meanwhile, NATO officials said Tuesday there are “limits” to using air power to protect Libyan civilians. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe acknowledged the difficult situation in Libya Tuesday, but said France is opposed to sending ground troops to break the military stalemate.

Leaders in the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata called for the urgent intervention of foreign ground troops to protect the 500,000 civilians there, the first such request by anyone among Libya’s opposition forces.Nouri Abdallah Abdel Ati, a member of Misrata’s leadership committee, said Tuesday that if foreign forces do not arrive immediately, “we will die.” Abdel Ati said the recent use by pro-Gadhafi forces of Grad rockets to shell civilians had created a “life or death situation.”So far, the rebels’ civilian leadership, the Transitional National Council, has rejected the presence of foreign troops on Libyan soil to help their cause.Also Tuesday, the U.N. Refugee Agency said 10,000 civilians have fled Libya’s war-torn Western Mountains region for Tunisia in the past 10 days. Most of the arrivals are families coming from the town of Nalut, about 50 kilometers from the Tunisian border.The majority Berber population in the remote area has largely sided with the revolt against Mr. Gadhafi’s rule and is now facing the wrath of pro-government forces. Many of the refugees told UNHCR officials that the fighting has intensified significantly over the past few days.

At least two mortar rounds fired from Libya fell across the Tunisian border this week. No one was wounded and it is unclear who fired the shells.NATO warplanes bombed several targets near the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Tuesday. The alliance said the strikes targeted command and control facilities as well as communications infrastructure.Britain’s Defense Ministry has released footage of its strikes against Libyan communications systems, saying its jets struck seven times in seven minutes on Monday. NATO says it also bombed the headquarters of Libya’s elite 32nd Brigade, which it says has been used to lead and coordinate attacks on civilians.State-run media says the strikes took place in Tripoli, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, and the Al-Hira region located southwest of the capital.The NATO alliance has been carrying out airstrikes against loyalist forces in Libya to enforce the U.N.-authorized “no fly” zone, protecting civilians from attack by Colonel Gadhafi’s troops. – Voanews