PARIS -- France acknowledged Wednesday that it airlifted weapons to Libyan civilians fighting Moammar Gadhafi's forces in a besieged mountain region south of Tripoli, becoming the first NATO country to do so in a major escalation in the international campaign.
The deliveries of guns, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions took place in early June in the western Nafusa mountains, when Gadhafi's troops had encircled civilians and his government refused a United Nations request for a pause in the fighting, French military spokesman Col. Thierry Burkhard said.
The weapons were parachuted in by a military transport plane, he said.
The impact of the airlifted weapons wasn't immediately clear. But in recent days -- since the delivery -- rebels in the mountains claimed to have advanced to the town of Bir al-Ghanam, about 50 miles from Tripoli. -- AP