Western military advisers become visible in Benghazi

Former Royal Navy officer is 'consultant' to rebels and small British convoy say they are 'engineers'

The first discernible signs of mission creep by the coalition were detected in Libya yesterday. In several places around Benghazi, there were palpable signs that Western "assistance" was active on the ground.

Military and diplomatic operatives from the US and Western Europe – usually described as experts, consultants and advisers – turned up in the rebel capital, Benghazi. These include UK personnel, among them a former Royal Navy officer who had recently served as a diplomat in Afghanistan. He said he was in Libya as a consultant to the opposition administration.

A group speaking with English and Scottish accents was encountered on the road out of Benghazi towards the front line in three four-wheel-drive cars. They said they were carrying out engineering maintenance work. If such personnel are now operational, can military trainers be far behind?

Meanwhile, on the questioning of the former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa, the silence from Whitehall and No 10 continues to be deafening. Far from suggesting that his conversations with his inquisitors – somewhere in southern England, to use the popular, melodramatic phrase – are fruitless, there is no way of knowing whether they have spurred delicate negotiations or are proving less productive than first thought. Government sources were, understandably, not eager to speculate yesterday.

Ministers were only marginally more forthcoming, the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, appearing on Sky Television and Radio 4's Today programme to say that he was convinced there was "division" in Gaddafi's regime and that its members should recognise it "no longer has any legitimacy". Asked about the treatment of Mr Koussa, and whether he had received any promises, especially about possible questioning of him over the Lockerie bombing in 1988, Mr Fox replied: "We are not going to give an ongoing discussion about that."

There was last night at least some practical progress to report – on the humanitarian front. Ukraine announced it will send a ship to evacuate 600 Ukrainians, Americans, Britons and other foreigners wishing to leave Libya. Britain said it will provide emergency shelters for 10,000 people driven out of their homes. Some 2,100 tents are being flown out from UK stocks in Dubai, and will be distributed by the Libyan Red Crescent. The aid is expected to be focused around the Ajdabiya area in the north-east of the country. Another expert from Britain is to join a Turkish-UK-US humanitarian planning team based in Ankara helping with "emerging and urgent needs" in Libya.

The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said: "As fighting continues in Libya, we need to ensure that the most vulnerable get the protection they need. That means shelter for those who suddenly find themselves driven out of their homes and often cut off from friends and family in their own country.

"It's also about ensuring that we continue to provide help to poor migrant workers having to flee Libya, and that we get people in place to look at ongoing needs and how best we can meet them."

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone