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Libya - France

Fillon says the 'wall of fear has fallen' in Libya

Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

French Foreign Minister François Fillon told parliament on Tuesday that France's intervention in Libya had caused the "wall of fear to fall" among people in Libya.Fillon said France's air strikes that began on Saturday were to fight against the "wall of oppression" that Libyan leader Muammar Gadafi has imposed on regular Libyans.

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"The wall of fear has fallen. And with this, it demonstrates that the population in the region is not condemned to choose between two choices - authoritarian dictatorship or an Islamist regime," said Fillon.

Fillon added, however, that sending coalition ground troops was "explicitly excluded", as France cannot be a substitute for the Libyan people.

Meanwhile, Libyan forces have stepped up their offensive against rebel held towns, despite the coalition air strikes.

Gaddafi's forces attacked two new towns in the west on Tuesday:  Yafran, 130 km southwest of Tripoli, and Zintan, close to the border with Tunisia. Zintan was the first city in western Libya to join the anti-regime protests. Another western town, Misrata, also came under heavy attack today.

Rebels say snipers and tanks are deployed in the city's center and are firing blindly. A rebel spokesperson in Misrata said the victims included four children travelling in a car with their parents.

 Hospital sources in Misrata say that some 40 people have been killed and some 300 wounded Monday alone.

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