U.K. Sending Military Advisers to Help Libyan Rebels

By Staff | April 19, 2011 | 10:33 AM EDT

London (AP) - Britain said Tuesday it will send a team of up 20 senior military officers to Libya to help organize the country's haphazard opposition forces.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the military advisers would join a group of British diplomats already cooperating with rebel leaders in Benghazi.

The decision by Britain's National Security Council to deploy the military team comes as international allies search for ways to help the opposition to break their military stalemate with Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

Britain has said it would not become involved in directly supplying weapons to Libya's rebels; it has already sent non-lethal support, such as 1,000 sets of body armor and 100 satellite phones.

Hague insisted the advisers would not be involved in supplying weapons to the rebels, or in assisting their attacks on Gadhafi's forces.

Hague said the advisers would work with the National Transitional Council, the political wing of the rebel movement, which has been officially recognized by Italy, France and Qatar.

"They will advise the National Transitional Council on how to improve their military organizational structures, communications and logistics, including how best to distribute humanitarian aid and deliver medical assistance," Hague said.

Britain on Monday pledged to provide about 2 million pounds ($3.3 million) to fund efforts to evacuate about 5,000 foreign workers stranded in the besieged western Libyan city of Misrata.

"As the scale of the humanitarian crisis has grown, so has the urgency of increasing our efforts to defend civilians against the attack from Gadhafi forces," Hague said.