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NATO admits UK and France may have troops in Libya

NATO has revealed its member countries may have troops on the ground in Libya.

NATO has revealed its member countries may have troops on the ground in Libya.

In an interview with the EUobserver website, an unnamed NATO official admitted Britain and France may have deployed troops in Libya, but said that it would be "unfair to call them NATO forces."

In comments carried by state news channel Rossiya 24 on Sunday, the Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said there was "direct evidence" that British and French special forces were carrying out ground operations in Libya in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1973.

The resolution, passed in March, authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and use of "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said last week the alliance had no troops on the ground in Libya, and would not have any after the regime fell.

"The leading role in the post-Gaddafi period in supporting the Libyan people rests with the United Nations and the Contact Group. NATO will be in a supporting role... NATO will have no troops on the ground," Lungescu told reporters in Brussels.

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox told Sky News last week the rebels were getting intelligence and reconnaissance assistance from NATO.

Last week, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed Britain's elite Special Air Service regiment (SAS) were helping the rebels hunt down Col Muammar Gaddafi, whose forces have lost control of most of the country including the capital Tripoli.

Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown, though the transitional government says he is still in hiding in Tripoli.

A former member of the SAS told RIA Novosti last week that UK special forces had been in Libya "since day one" of the insurrection.

The rebels, who seized Tripoli a week ago, have offered a $1.3 million reward and amnesty from prosecution for anyone who kills or captures Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, the rebels are trying to advance toward Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte east of Tripoli, but are continuing to meet resistance from the deposed leader's loyalists.

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