French military officials have confirmed for the first time that their country has dropped weapons and food to rebels fighting Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi’s troops in Western Libya.
A report in France’s respected daily Le Figaro said the arms included rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles.
France has a leading role in NATO’s operation in Libya – but the newspaper said Paris did not inform its allies about its actions.
Officials say light arms and ammunition were sent to Berber tribal fighters near Tripoli in early June.
It is thought to have been an attempt to give impetus to a rebel push towards Gaddafi’s stronghold in the capital, Tripoli.
France is said to have been frustrated by the stalemate in the conflict, which began back in February.
This latest revelation is likely to lead to friction between the NATO powers, four months into the conflict.