Cairo, April 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Western powers involved in the military operation in Libya have asked the country's neighbours for help in defending rebels against President Muammar Gaddafi's regime, an Algerian daily reported Thursday.
The NATO-led coalition asked for assistance after admitting that it had underestimated the combat capability of Gaddafi's troops.
NATO asked Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Niger and Chad to close their borders to high-ranking officials and other representatives of Gaddafi's regime, and prevent imports of military and dual purpose products, including four-wheel drive vehicles, Elkhabar newspaper reported.
The paper also said that the US had asked Algeria for permission to use Algerian airspace for NATO military and transport aircraft in case of a possible ground military operation.
But since the country already refused a similar request from France, appeal is unlikely to be accepted, the paper said.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya March 17, paving the way for a military operation against Gaddafi which began two days later. The US handed command to NATO in late March.
Despite dozens of sorties carried out by NATO aircraft against Gaddafi's forces, the government troops maintain their combat capability and continue to pound poorly-equipped rebels with heavy artillery and rocket fire.
The Libyan National Transitional Council's foreign relations department head, Ali al-Assaoui, said the rebels need military aid and weapons and did not rule out that 'Arab, Muslim, and friendly forces on Libyan soil' may be needed to rout out Gaddafi.