June 30, 2011 / 9:07 AM / 9 years ago

Libya rebel chief says weapon deliveries will shorten war

VIENNA (Reuters) - Sending weapons to Libyan rebels trying to topple Muammar Gaddafi could help speed an end to the civil war, their chief said on Thursday.

Asked about French arms deliveries to his forces, Mahmoud Jibril told a news conference in Vienna that weapons could help avoid casualties

“Giving them weapons we will be able decide the battle more quickly, so that we can shed as little blood as possible. Because the less blood we shed the faster we can think of the future and the more we can protect the Libyan people.”

France on Wednesday became the first NATO country to openly acknowledge arming rebels.

Citing unnamed sources, the French newspaper Le Figaro said France had parachuted rocket launchers, assault rifles, machineguns and anti-tank missiles into the Western Mountains in early June.

France has defended its move to airlift weapons to Libya’s rebels, saying it did not break a U.N. arms embargo because they were needed to defend civilians under threat.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Matthew Jones

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