NPR logo Allies May Arm Libyan Rebels And Deploy Tank-Killing Warthogs


Allies May Arm Libyan Rebels And Deploy Tank-Killing Warthogs

A senior military official tells NPR that there are ongoing discussions about arming the Libyan rebels. The official says U.S. and coalition leaders are trying to find a way to give the rebels the advantage over Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

The military official adds that despite withering air attacks over the past week, Gadhafi still has the advantage. His military forces continue to threaten civilians inside some cities.

The official says the rebels could use rocket-propelled grenades as a way to counter Libyan armor, and says those are weapons the rebels have requested.

White House spokesman Jay Carney was non-committal today when asked about arming the rebels. "We are working with the opposition" and "looking for ways we can assist them and that work continues every day," Carney said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is expected to soon deploy a tank-killing plane, the A-10 Warthog, to add another way to strike at Gadhafi's ground forces.

Update at 5:08 p.m. ET: At a State Department briefing, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz was also vague about what the U.S. is providing or not providing to the Libyan rebels. He said:

I can just say that we're having the full gamut of potential assistance that we might offer, both on the non-lethal and the lethal side, is a subject of discussion within the U.S. Government, but there has been no final decisions made on any aspect of that.

(NPR's Tom Bowman covers the Pentagon.)