BRUSSELS, June 4 (Reuters) - Following are the latest political and military developments in the Libyan crisis. For the latest news on Libya, click on [ID:nLDE72H00G].
* British and French attack helicopters were used to strike inside Libya for the first time overnight on Saturday, hitting targets in the oil port of Brega as NATO forces stepped up their air war against Muammar Gaddafi.
* British Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategic Communications Officer, said Apache helicopters were tasked with precision strikes against a regime radar installation and a military checkpoint, both located around Brega.
* “In the same area, Royal Air Force ground attack aircraft destroyed another military installation, whilst a separate RAF mission successfully attacked two ammunition bunkers at the large Waddan depot in central Libya,” he said.
* In the latest diplomatic setback for Gaddafi, China made its first confirmed contact with Libyan rebels this week following a spate of defections by high profile figures including senior oil official and former prime minister Shokri Ghanem.
* A NATO-led military alliance extended its mission to protect civilians in Libya for a further 90 days this week, and France said it was stepping up military pressure as well as working with those close to Gaddafi to try to persuade him to quit.
* In London, Major General John Lorimer said British warplanes destroyed two tanks and two armoured personnel carriers on Thursday in Yafran, 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Tripoli, where he said Gaddafi’s forces were continuing to attack rebels.
* A rebel spokesman in the Western Mountains town of Nalut, Kalefa Ali, said rebels had been fighting forces loyal to Gaddafi in Trumeet to the south of Yafran and in Bir Ayyad.
* The rebels took over Bir Ayyad, a road junction which controls access to Yafran from the north, and replaced the green Libyan flags there with the red, black and green rebel flag, a Reuters cameraman said.
* In Misrata, rebel leader Abdelsalam reported fighting in Dafniyah to the west of the city.
* NATO said it conducted 144 air sorties on Friday, 56 of them strike sorties that aim to identify and hit targets but do not always deploy munitions.
It said key targets hit on Friday included:
— One ammunition storage facility near Hun;
— One ammunition storage facility near Qaryat;
— One command and control node in Brega;
— Near Brega: two command and control nodes, one military camp comprising 14 vehicles, two shelters and 12 tents.
* Since NATO took over command of air strikes on March 31, its aircraft have conducted a total of 9,648 sorties, including 3,640 strike sorties.
* Seventeen ships under NATO command are patrolling the central Mediterranean Sea to enforce a U.N. arms embargo. On Friday, 13 vessels were hailed to determine destination and cargo. Three were boarded but they were not diverted.
A total of 1,156 vessels have been hailed, 71 boarded and eight diverted since the start of the arms embargo.
Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall