France to Boost Anti-Gaddafi Strikes, Opposed to Ground Troops in Libya

World | April 19, 2011, Tuesday // 19:54
Bulgaria: France to Boost Anti-Gaddafi Strikes, Opposed to Ground Troops in Libya A Libyan rebel stands next to a rocket launcher, that was left behind from trops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in a barrack in the West of Benghazi, Libya, 19 April 2011. EPA/BGNES

France is going to increase the intensity of its air strikes in Libya to protect civilians from the forces of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, according to Frence PM Francois Fillon.

"We will therefore intensify our military effort from our air force to prevent Gaddafi forces from pursuing their attacks on civilian populations. But at the same time, we will need to find a political solution, that is conditions for a dialogue to that the Libyan crisis can be resolved," Fillon told journalists Tuesday as cited by international media.

The French PM spoke with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, where the two men are attending a conference on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Fillon did underscore, however, that there is no way the military efforts of the NATO-led coalition, the so called Operation Odyssey Dawn, would resolve the civil conflict between Gaddafi and the rebels in Libya. France has been one of the leaders and most eager participants in the international coalition, and has recognized the rebel government in Benghazi.

Fillon and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, however, have ruled out the possibility of sending ground troops in Libya to guide the air strikes.

Juppe said the West had underestimated the Libyan leader's ability to adapt his tactics in response to the coalition campaign.

Gaddafi's army has switched to light vehicles like pickup trucks after strikes led by France, Britain and the United States targeted his tanks and heavy weaponry.

"I remain absolutely opposed to a deployment of troops on the ground. It is likely ... that there will not be a military solution. What we have perhaps underestimated is Muammar Gaddafi's capacity to adapt," Juppe told reporters, saying it would not be allowed under a United Nations Security Council resolution permitting the intervention in Libya.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is going to meet the head of Libya's rebel opposition, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, in Paris on Wednesday to discuss a possible political solution. This will be the first time Sarkozy will meet the leader of the Libyan transition council, Gaddafi's former justice minister Jali.

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Tags: France, Libya, Operation Odyssey Dawn, NATO, air strikes, rebels, Benghazi, Francois Fillon, Alain Juppe, mustafa abdel jalil, Mustafa Abudel-Jalil
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