April 21, 2011 / 11:51 AM / 8 years ago

France flies more sorties over Libya: defense minister

PARIS (Reuters) - France increased the number of sorties flown over Libya over the past week to 41 from an average of about 30 since the start of a coalition operation, the defense ministry said on Thursday.

French aircraft destroyed several military vehicles and tanks near Misrata in the past week as well as two ground-to-air missile sites and a communications center in the Sirte region, defense ministry spokesman Thierry Burkhard told a news briefing.

On Wednesday, President Nicolas Sarkozy assured a visiting Libyan rebel leader that France would intensify air strikes on Muammar Gaddafi’s army, an official in the president’s office said.

France has flown 255 sorties since the operation, designed to protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi’s armed forces under a U.N. Security Council mandate, began in late March.

Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur, editing by Tim Pearce

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