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France Pledges Increased Air Strikes As Fighting Rages In Misurata

Libyan rebel fighters fire on loyalist snipers from a window in a trashed house on Tripoli Street in Misurata on April 20.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to intensify NATO-led air strikes on Muammar Qaddafi's forces to help Libyan rebels fight off Qaddafi's attack on the western city of Misurata and eventually prevail over the longtime ruler of the north African country.

An official in Sarkozy's office quoted the president as making the pledge during a meeting in Paris on April 20 between Sarkozy and the leader of the rebel Libyan National Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

In another effort to help the rebels, France and Italy have announced they are joining Britain in sending military advisers to Libya to offer advice to the rebels on how to overcome the stalemate with Qaddafi's forces.

The United States has welcomed the decision by its three European NATO allies, but the Obama administration remain firm that it has no plans to send U.S. forces to Libya.

U.S. officials say, however, that the United States is planning to provide the rebels with $25 million in aid, including medical supplies, uniforms, boots, body armor, radios, and food.

In the Libya fighting, Reuters quotes medical workers as saying at least 10 people were killed in fighting between pro-Qaddafi forces and rebels on April 20 in Misurata, the last rebel bastion in western Libya.

The report says they include seven Libyan civilians, a Ukrainian doctor and two Western photojournalists.

compiled from agency reports