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LIBYA REBELS 'ARMED' BY UK; Secret handover of rocket launchers.

Byline: Russell Myers

BRITAIN is secretly arming Libyan rebels with highpowered missiles and rocket launchers to help defeat Colonel Gaddafi, it was claimed last night.

The deadly arsenal of specialist Dragon and Javelin warheads is said to have been handed over in covert missions by our troops.

A senior military source told The People: "Opposition forces are hugely outnumbered and lack vital weaponry. Hopefully, with the right guidance and the right pieces of kit, they will win this ugly war."

The Dragon is a medium-range guided missile used to take out armoured vehicles, fortified bunkers and concrete gun emplacements.

The Javelin has an automatic guidance device allowing it to home in and destroy targets. It can down helicopters.

The Ministry of Defence denied the claim - as it also emerged that Whitehall officials are briefing ministers that British involvement in Libya could last 12 months.

With the uprising in its fifth week, Foreign Secretary William Hague has held open the possibility of deploying troops in some form. And our source added: "After setting up the no-fly zone, allied jets will run out of targets within days.

"The next step would be to help rebel fighters on the ground. All this is likely to last at least a year."

Celebrated Rebels yesterday celebrated winning back control of Ajdabiya, helped by seven nights of allied air strikes after Gaddafi's men seized it last week.

Hundreds in the oil city, close to their eastern stronghold of Benghazi, stood on abandoned tanks and fired guns. Some chanted: "Thank you, Obama", "Thank you, Cameron". Gaddafi's forces attacked civilians in Misrata, the last major western town in rebel hands. A resident said: "Snipers are on rooftops. We've had 115 killed in the past week."

In the capital Tripoli, a Libyan woman sparked a hotel brawl yesterday when she yelled to reporters that she had been raped by government troops. A waitress brandished a butter knife and called her a traitor before officials led her away. Syrian protesters set fire to the offices of the ruling Baath party yesterday during clashes with troops in the coastal city of Latakia.

russell.myers@people.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

BACK IN CONTROL: Rebels celebrate seizing Ajdabiya yesterday COPTER THREAT British soldier demonstrates firing a Javelin
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Mar 27, 2011
Words:374
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