NDJAMENA, Chad -- France made a second air drop of supplies to Chadian loyalists fighting Libyan troops in the Tibesti region of northern Chad today, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
The spokesman said France gave the Chadian forces -- operating in portions of Chad controlled by Libya -- 'certain logistical aid of which the contents are an operating secret.'
Chad's state-controlled radio said Libya launched new attacks on the city of Wour in the northeast of the landlocked country, using air strikes and sending columns of tanks and troops against the rebels. There were no casualty reports.
French news reports said Chadian government troops that left Ndjamena last week had likely reached Wour. The Chadians had to struggle through mountain roads because the direct highway is blocked by a Libyan camp.
France a week ago sent two Transall transport planes to drop food, fuel and ammunition to the estimated 1,000 rebels who have been fighting the Libyans since Oct. 5 in the Tibesti mountain towns of Bardai, Zadou and Wour.
The spokesman said the air drop 'cannot be considered automatically as direct involvement' by France in the fighting, even though the planes crossed the demarcation line set up in 1983 along the 16th parallel dividing the Chadian government-controlled south and the Libyan-held north of the country.
The move followed a meeting Tuesday in Paris on the fighting in Chad among President Francois Mitterrand, Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and Defense Minister Andre Giraud.
France since February has kept a 'deterrent' force of radar units, anti-aircraft guns and fighter planes in southern Chad to prevent Libyan aircraft from overflying government-held territory.
Tuesday, a U.S. transport plane delivered the first of $15 million in U.S. military aid granted last week to the government of President Hissene Haxre.
Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi has denied direct Libyan involvement in the fighting, but accused the United States and France of provoking war between separate Chadian groups in the north. Gadhafi warned Libya would send in troops if it felt its southern border was threatened.
Libyan forces in 1983 joined rebels led by ex-President Goukouni Weddye, who was overthrown by Habre, in an offensive aimed at restoring Goukouni to power. The attack split the African nation.
But the rebels joined forces with the Habre government in late October to help repel Libyan advances, trying to unite the country for the first time in 12 years.
The Chadian government said that since mid-December, Libyan troops surrounded the rebel forces in Tibesti and were pounding their positions with air strikes, using napalm and toxic gas.
Goukouni was wounded in a shootout Oct. 30 between his bodyguard and Libyan police who placed him under house arrest in Tripoli.
France sent 3,500 troops to Chad in August 1983 to set up the demaracation line to halt a Libyan and rebel advance from the north in some of the heaviest fighting in Chad's 20-year-old civil war.
The troops were pulled out a year later when France and Libya made a joint troop withdrawal agreement. Libya reneged on the accord and retained 6,000 troops in Chad.