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France gave weapons to Libya rebels

France has sent weapons to Libyan civilians besieged by Muammar Gaddafi's forces, a French military spokesman said.

It is the first Nato country to publicly announce it has armed rebel fighters.

Col Thierry Burkhard said in Paris the deliveries took place in early June in the western Nafusa mountains when civilians were encircled by Gaddafi's forces and his government refused to allow a humanitarian aid corridor there.

Burkhard said the weapons were parachuted in by air and included "self-defence assets" like assault weapons, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions.

France and Britain, backed by the United States, have been among the main powers behind a months-long Nato-led air campaign to protect civilians from assaults by Gaddafi's forces.

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