June 30 (Reuters) - Following are the latest political and military developments in the Libyan crisis.
* France said it did not break a U.N. arms embargo by airlifting weapons to Libya’s rebels, because the arms were needed to defend civilians under threat.
* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the arming of Libyan rebels was a “crude violation” of the arms embargo.
* France on Wednesday became the first NATO country to openly acknowledge arming rebels seeking to topple Muammar Gaddafi.
* NATO was not involved in the French operation to airlift weapons to the rebels, alliance chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, and dismissed warnings of “mission creep”.
* Sending weapons to Libyan rebels could help speed an end to the civil war, the rebels’ chief said.
* In the rebel-held city of Misrata, about 200 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli, six rockets landed early on Thursday in the Habara district, near the city’s oil refinery and port. A Reuters journalist in Misrata said there were no casualties.
* NATO said it conducted 149 air sorties on Wednesday, 55 of them strike sorties that aim to identify and hit targets but do not always deploy munitions.
* NATO said key targets hit on Wednesday included:
— Twelve military vehicles, one military truck, one armoured personnel carrier, one ammunition storage, one military compound and one military checkpoint in Brega;
— One multiple rocket launcher, five battle tanks, two artillery pieces, three military vehicles near Misrata;
— One self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, one military technical vehicle, two multiple rocket launchers and one military equipment storage facility near Tripoli;
— Four battle tanks, one military technical vehicle, one heavy equipment transport near Gharyan;
— One battle tank, one military technical vehicle near Sirte;
— One ammunition storage facility in Waddan;
— One military technical vehicle near Nalut.
* Since NATO took over command of air strikes on March 31, its aircraft have conducted 13,184 sorties, including 4,963 strike sorties. NATO members participating in air strikes in Libya include France, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Italy and the United States.
* Seventeen ships under NATO command are patrolling the central Mediterranean Sea to enforce a U.N. arms embargo. On Wednesday, 12 vessels were hailed to determine destination and cargo. Three were boarded but none was diverted.
A total of 1,568 vessels have been hailed, 132 boarded and eight diverted since the start of the arms embargo.
Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Robert Woodward