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UK sending military advisers to assist Libyan rebels

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, April 19, IRNA -- The British government Tuesday markedly stepped up its involvement in the Libyan civil war with Foreign Secretary William Hague announcing the despatch of a team of military advisers to assist the rebels based in Benghazi.

The decision came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused countries of violating the UN mandate to topple the Libyan regime, but this was disputed by Hague.

“This deployment is fully within the terms of UNSCR 1973 both in respect of civilian protection and its provision expressly ruling out a foreign occupation force on Libyan soil,” he insisted.

“Consistent with our obligations under that resolution, our officers will not be involved in training or arming the opposition's fighting forces,” he said, adding the advisers would also not be involved in planning or executing the National Transition Council's military operations or in any provision of operational military advice.

Five MPs have already accused the UK of “mission creep” and called for parliament to be recalled during its current Easter recess following Prime Minister David Cameron signing a joint statement with his US and French counterparts, presidents, making regime change a condition of a ceasefire.

Last month, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn warned of the danger of Britain becoming embroiled on the ground in Libya in a similar scenario that led to the involvement of hundreds of thousands of US troops in Vietnam in the 1960s by way of first sending military trainers.

“I am very frightened that we will end up going down the road of some form of occupation. I think this is where the implications of all this will lead to,” Corbyn told IRNA.

In his statement, Hague said that the additional military liaison advisory personnel would quickly expand the team already in Benghazi led by British Ambassador to Libya Christopher Prentice.

“This contingent will be drawn from experienced British military officers. 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,” he said.

“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. In doing so, we will coordinate closely with other international partners also assisting the NTC.”

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30346965

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