Libyan official says Qatar sent missiles to opposition fighters
Apr 14, 2011, 9:19 GMT
Tripoli/Cairo - Qatar has sent missiles to Libyan rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi, according to a top Libyan official, as opposition fighters continued to battle Moamer Gaddafi's forces in key coastal cities on Thursday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled el-Kaim told reporters that Qatar had provided rebels in Benghazi with French-made anti-tank missiles.
He also said that there were international experts in Libya training the rebels in a camp some 1,000 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli.
The allegation against Qatar came the day after a high level meeting in the Gulf State aimed at assessing the situation in Libya.
The meeting of the Libya Contact Group called on Gaddafi to step down and agreed on a funding mechanism for the opposition's Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC).
'It endorsed the fact that the ITNC is able to purchase weapons for self-defence of free Libyan towns and cities and to provide protection for its future development,' according to rebel spokesman Abdul Hafiz Ghoga in Benghazi.
Rebel forces have been battling for weeks against Gaddafi's troops, urging international assistance beyond NATO airstrikes aimed at imposing a UN approved no-fly zone.
The opposition has been unable to fully secure eastern cities such as Brega and Ajdabiya, but remains in firm control of Benghazi. Western cities belong mostly to Gaddafi, including the capital Tripoli.
Meanwhile, the Libyan Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that European Union sanctions on Libyan oil and gas 'increases the suffering of the Libyan people of all denominations.'
The statement expressed regret over the EU decision to impose further sanctions on Libya and said that continued Western-led attacks on Libyan forces were 'a clear violation' of the North African country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
However, Libyan officials in Tripoli stressed that the country had enough gold reserves and other assets to face sanctions.
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