Libya rebels ask foreign allies for arms: spokesman

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 12, 2011 1:47 PM
Libya rebels ask foreign allies for arms: spokesman

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan rebels have sent a request for weapons they need to countries that have recognized their national council as the sole representative of Libya, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

"We have submitted a list of military and technical equipment we need," Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, official spokesman for the council, told reporters in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Asked which countries the rebels were asking for weapons, Ghoga said: "Obviously we've been asking the countries that have already recognized the national transitional council as the sole representative for Libya."

France, Qatar and Italy have recognized the rebels controlling the east of the country, whose military campaign against Muammar Gaddafi's forces has reached stalemate despite air strikes against Gaddafi's weaponry by NATO warplanes.

France led calls for military intervention in Libya after the popular uprising in the east turned into a war when rebels grabbed weapons abandoned by fleeing Gaddafi loyalists.

They quickly overpowered government forces in the east, but Gaddafi fighters armed with more powerful, longer-range artillery beat back the rebels as they attempted to advance through the central coastal region toward Tripoli.

Ghoga said the rebels had boosted security at oil fields they control after attacks by forces loyal to Gaddafi forced them to halt production. He did not give details.

Gaddafi forces are still occupying parts of the oil port of Brega, Ghoga said. Rebels have fought a seesaw battle over the town but failed to dislodge government loyalists.

(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz, editing by Tim Pearce)