Libyan rebel forces may have been infiltrated by al-Qaeda fighters, a senior American military commander has warned.
Admiral James Stavridis, Nato's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, said that American intelligence had picked up "flickers" of terrorist activity among the rebel groups. Senior British government figures described the comment as "very alarming".
The admission came as the American, Qatari and British Governments indicated that they were considering arming rebel groups, who yesterday suffered a series of setbacks in their advance along the Libyan coast towards Tripoli.
The plan is likely to spark further splits in the international coalition, with Nato and Italian sources indicating the move would require another United Nations resolution.
On Tuesday more than 40 ministers from around the world met at a conference in London to discuss the situation in Libya.
They agreed to establish formal links with opposition groups in the rebel-stronghold of Benghazi with several countries sending official envoys to the area. Libyan opposition leaders yesterday also travelled to Britain for talks with David Cameron and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State. (read more)