* France joins Britain placing liaison officers with rebels
* French officers to number less than 10
(Adds detail, quotes)
PARIS, April 20 (Reuters) - France, jointly with Britain, will send military liaison officers to opposition rebel forces locked in a conflict with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s army.
Government spokesman Francois Baroin stressed France had no intention of sending troops into Libya, where Western powers are struggling to break a deadlock in a two-month-old conflict.
“A small number of liaison officers (will be placed) with the National Transition Council in order to organise the protection of the civilian population,” he told a news briefing.
He said they would number up to 10 and that this was an initiative in partnership with the Western-led coalition intervening in Libya.
The French officers are expected to advise rebel leaders on how to organise their ragtag forces, which are struggling against Gaddafi’s bigger, better-armed and better-trained army.
They would also liaise with NATO on the location of rebels and Gaddafi’s troops.
Britain — which along with France has been at the forefront of the intervention in Libya — said on Tuesday it was sending a dozen military officers to help Libyan insurgents improve their organisation and communications, but said they would not arm the rebels or train them to fight [ID:nLDE73I1A7].
Baroin declined to say which countries could participate, saying: “We’re not in the position to speak for other countries.”
France already has several military officials in Benghazi protecting a diplomatic envoy who has been based there for the last few weeks. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Alexandria Sage; Writing by Catherine Bremer, edited by Richard Meares)