France 'should send in commandos to Libya'

French commandos should be deployed on the ground in Libya to help guide air strikes, a senior French official says.

Axel Poniatowski, chairman of France's foreign affairs committee, warned the Nato campaign could become bogged down unless allies put boots on the ground.

The UN resolution authorising force to protect civilians in Libya forbids a "force of occupation" on Libyan soil.

Meanwhile, a ship has evacuated nearly 1,000 foreign workers and wounded Libyans from the city of Misrata.

The Ionian Spirit left the besieged city on Monday for the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Mr Poniatowski's statement came as rebel forces said they had made ground in Misrata in the west, but pro-Gaddafi forces continued to press the rebel-held town of Ajdabiya in the east.

"The exclusive use of air power, as imposed on us by UN Security Council resolution 1973, has proved its limitations in the face of targets that are mobile and hard to track," Mr Poniatowski said.

He said Nato pilots often found it hard to differentiate between pro-Gaddafi forces and the rebels from the air.

"Without information from the ground, coalition planes are flying blind and increasing the risk of friendly fire incidents," he said.

Rebel convoys have been mistakenly bombed by Nato planes on at least two occasions.

[Source: BBC News Africa, London, 18Apr11]

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