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UK welcomes extended Libyan mission

Britain has welcomed Nato's decision to extend its mission in Libya for a further 90 days, which could see operations continue almost to the end of September.

Operations to enforce the no-fly zone and use air power to protect civilians were authorised for an initial 90 days - up to the end of June - when the military alliance took over command on March 31.

But with dictator Muammar Gaddafi still holding firm in the face of international military action, the allies agreed an extension.

The development came as UN investigators said that both Gaddafi and the forces of the opposition have committed war crimes in Libya.

A report by three UN-appointed experts called on both sides to conduct transparent and exhaustive investigations and bring those responsible to justice.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman insisted that Britain has no combat troops in Libya, following the publication of photographs which appear to show Westerners on the ground in the country.

Men reported to be ex-SAS soldiers were pictured training the rebels and The Guardian reported that some were being used by Nato to identify targets in Misrata.

The Daily Mirror quoted a source saying they were "representing Britain" but Government sources insisted there was no funding of such help for the rebels.

A private security firm is thought to have been employed to protect a joint Foreign Office and MoD team sent to rebel stronghold Benghazi to offer technical assistance.

Asked if the UK was paying private security firms engaged in Libya, Mr Cameron's spokesman said: "We have had an FCO/MoD team in Benghazi ... clearly we take their security seriously and have arrangements in place."


From Belfast Telegraph