News Column

Italy to Send 10 Military Instructors to Libya

April 20, 2011

In a move similar to those taken by Britain and France, Italy will send 10 military experts to train rebels in Libya, Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa announced Wednesday.

The decision was made following a discussion between Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his British counterpart David Cameron, La Russa said.

"Italy and Britain know very well that the rebels need to be trained: they are youths willing to fight for their cause but they don't have the necessary skills," La Russa said.

The Italian instructors would be deployed "where secure conditions" exist, La Russa said, without providing further details.

"We will equip them with our know-how thus permitting them to oppose the army (of Moamer Gaddafi) which instead is a professional force," La Russa said. He reiterated that Italy has no plans to send combat troops to Libya.

Italy is part of NATO's intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to alleged attacks on civilians by Gaddafi's forces.

Earlier Wednesday France announced it would send several liaison officers to the rebel-held eastern part of Libya to help the main rebel grouping, the Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC).

Assistance would focus on ways to protect civilians, French officials said.

Britain announced Tuesday it will send military officers to the Libyan opposition stronghold of Benghazi to train and advise the rebels. Those troops are also not expected to be involved in combat operations.

Source: Copyright 2011 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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