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Terrorism & Security

Libya says European military advisers for rebels will extend fighting

The British and French decision to send advisory forces to Libya stoked concerns about mission creep and accusations from Libya's government of overstepping the UN mandate.

By Correspondent / April 20, 2011

A convoy of Libyan rebels deploy around the western gate of Ajdabiya, Libya, on Tuesday, April 19. Europe is ready to send an armed force to Libya to ensure delivery of humanitarian aid and Britain said Tuesday it will dispatch senior military officers to advise the opposition - signs that Western nations are inching closer to having troops on Libyan soil.

Nasser Nasser/AP

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Libya's foreign minister warned Tuesday that Britain's decision to send troops to Libya to advise the rebels would draw out the conflict and hamper attempts at dialogue.

Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, the foreign minister, said that the arrival of the foreign troops would derail progress on a cease-fire, which includes plans for a UN-supervised election, the BBC reported. Mr. Obeidi said the UK, France, and Italy have been obstacles to the Libyan government's efforts to work with the international community toward a cease-fire.

"We think any military presence is a step backwards and we are sure that if this bombing stopped and there is a real cease-fire we could have a dialogue among all Libyans about what they want – democracy, political reform, constitution, election. This could not be done with what is going on now," he said.

According to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, the British team of 10 will be working with the rebels to "improve their military organizational structures, communications, and logistics" and will not take part in any fighting, the BBC reported. France announced today that 10 French officers will join the British team.

Other members of the Libyan government have called the endeavor a waste of time, and in Europe there are increasing concerns about mission creep.

The Tripoli Post reports that Libya's deputy foreign minister said the advisory mission is beyond the UN mandate for intervention in Libya and that it constitutes a decision to take sides against the Libyan government. According to Al Jazeera, he also called it "an impossible mission" and said that the rebel forces are too divided for the foreign assistance to do much.

"To organize who? They [the rebels] are different groups. There is no leader. They are not well organized, and I am sure it will be a failure," the deputy minister said.

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