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US Senator McCain: Libyan rebels need arms

The revolt against Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi could stall unless the rebels battling his regime receive weapons and increased air support, influential US Senator John McCain warned Wednesday.

US Republican Senator John McCain holds a press conference in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi on April 22. The revolt against Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi could stall unless the rebels battling his regime receive weapons and increased air support, McCain warned Wednesday.

"There is a possibility if not a probability of a stalemate, and that should be of deep concern to us," the former presidential candidate and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee told AFP.

"The United States needs to recognise the TNC as France and Italy have done. They need to get supplies and equipment into the liberation forces, and we need to get American air power back into the fight," he said.

He confirmed that these supplies should include weapons, but suggested that these not be directly supplied by the United States.

"I think we could do the same thing that we did in the Afghan struggle against the Russians. There are ways to get weapons in without direct US supplying," he said, referring to US covert action in the 1980s.

The TNC is Libya's "Transitional National Council", the political arm of the rebellion, which has been recognised by Paris and Rome but not yet by Washington as legitimately representing the Libyan people.

"I'm glad that the Predator is now there, it's a very effective weapon, but I think there's more that needs to be done," he added, referring to the armed drone deployed last week by US forces to strike regime targets.

McCain said he remains opposed to sending US ground troops to Libya.

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