May 8, 2011
BENGHAZI, Libya — France, Britain and Italy, whose warplanes are bombing Moammar Gadhafi’s military in western Libya, have also put a tiny number of “boots on the ground” in the rebel-held east.
But these European soldiers tread lightly.
“If you see them please ask them to come and have a cup of tea with me,” joked Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani, the rebels’ military spokesman, when asked for information about what the advisors were up to.
Bani declined to let journalists interview the advisors — about 20 Britons, and ten each from Italy and France — while defence and foreign ministries in London, Paris and Rome refused requests to let AFP report on their work.
The advisors are rumoured to be holed up in a building on the edge of Benghazi, a port city which has become the rebels’ de facto capital in the wake of the anti-Gadhafi uprising that began in mid-February.