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Al Qaeda Presence Detected In Libya

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Intelligence on the rebel forces battling Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has shown "flickers" of al Qaeda or Hezbollah presence, but there is still no detailed picture of the emerging Libyan opposition, NATO's top operations commander said on Tuesday.

"We are examining very closely the content, composition, the personalities, who are the leaders of these opposition forces," Admiral James Stavridis, who is NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and also the commander of U.S. European Command, said during testimony at the U.S. Senate.

Gaddafi's troops on Tuesday reversed the westward charge of Libyan rebels as world powers met in London more than a week after the United States and other nations launched a military campaign in Libya.

While the opposition's leadership appeared to be "responsible men and women" fighting Gaddafi, Stavridis said, "we have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah, we've seen different things."

"But at this point I don't have detail sufficient to say there is a significant al Qaeda presence or any other terrorist presence," he said.

(Reporting by Missy Ryan and Susan Cornwell; editing by Eric Beech)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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