Nato denies helping Libyan rebels to advance

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The Independent Online

Nato has denied a Libyan government claim that the alliance is intentionally using its airstrikes to assist rebel advances.

Wing Cmdr Mike Bracken, an alliance spokesman in Naples, says Nato is "not involved in the ground battles", although he acknowledged that the alliance was tracking the fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. He says Nato's mandate remains to protect civilians.

Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim had accused Nato of intensifying its bombing campaign and backing foreign mercenaries to lay the groundwork for a rebel advance. Wing Cmdr Bracken says Nato has no evidence that mercenaries are helping the rebels.