France and Italy announced Wednesday that they will send military officers to advise rebels fighting for the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
Following a similar announcement by the British government Tuesday, French government spokesman Francois Baroin said a "small number" of French troops were being sent to advise the rebels' Transitional National Council.
French Defense Minister Gérard Longuet again ruled out sending ground troops to fight alongside the rebels. "This is a real issue that deserves an international debate," he said, adding, "We are working within the framework of the 1973 resolution," a reference to the U.N. resolution that authorized action in Libya. "You cannot please everyone all the time," he said.
Italy will send military advisers to train the rebels in self-defense tactics, Italian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari announced.
Britain said Tuesday it is sending a contingent of experienced military officers to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in an advisory role. The team will work with the Transitional National Council on how the opposition can improve military organizational structures, communications and logistics, the British Foreign Office said. It will also assist in the delivery of critically needed aid.
"This deployment is fully within the terms of UNSCR 1973 both in respect of civilian protection and its provision expressly ruling out a foreign occupation force on Libyan soil," Foreign Secretary William Hague said.