European special forces fought alongside Libyan rebels to oust the country’s strongman Moamer Kadhafi, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Tuesday.
“Not only have been there been air attacks on Tripoli and other places, I can tell you there have been special forces, European forces fighting on the ground to defeat Kadhafi,” Zebari said.
Media reports have said that British and French special forces took part in the fighting, in addition to the NATO air campaign, but London and Paris have not officially confirmed the reports.
Zebari, who was addressing the Concil on Foreign Relations in New York, did not give any further details.
His comments came the same day that the United Nations welcomed Libya’s new leaders, who have secured most of the North African country after capturing Tripoli in August and forcing Kadhafi into hiding.
Assisted by NATO airstrikes, the rebels fought a six-month conflict with Kadhafi’s forces that killed 25,000 people, according to Libya’s new transitional leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil.
Zebari added that the uprisings in Libya and other Arab countries had been inspired by Iraq’s example.
“We’ve been approached by the Libyans, by the Tunisians, by the Egyptians to see how we did it,” the Iraqi foreign minister said.
Eight years after a US invasion led to the downfall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains a struggling democracy propped up by US forces and shaken by frequent insurgent attacks.