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Libyan rebels welcome Turkey's support

  |   July 5, 2011 at 3:17 PM
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BENGHAZI, Libya, July 5 (UPI) -- Turkish support for the rebel-backed transitional council in Libya is a serious blow to the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, a rebel spokesman said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during the weekend said Ankara was pressing for a cease-fire in Libya, adding the only solution to the crisis was for Gadhafi to step down.

Davutoglu during meetings in rebel-held Benghazi said he recognized the rebel-backed Transitional National Council as the legitimate leadership in Libya. Khairallah Mahmoud, a senior TNC official, told London's pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that Ankara's recognition was a "serious blow" to Gadhafi's regime.

Turkey joins a growing number of countries recognizing the TNC's legitimacy. The conflict that erupted in Libya in February, however, shows no signs of letting up.

France, an early TNC supporter, was rapped last week for dropping weapons in for rebel forces on the ground. Russia suggested the airdrop was a prelude for a ground invasion led by NATO forces supporting a no-fly zone over Libya.

The U.N. Security Council passed a series of resolutions this year that authorized military force to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Gadhafi. The language of the resolutions puts careful restrictions on the scope of the military engagement.

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