U.S. missiles found in Libya compound belonged to France

Cheryl Sanders
July 11, 2019

He said a French military unit had controlled the missiles in Libya for "counter-terrorism operations".

The U.N. -recognized government headed by Sarraj controls a much smaller section of territory around Tripoli in the west and draws support from Turkey, Qatar and Italy, analysts say.

The French Defense Ministry further justified the presence of its missiles in Libya, claiming, "Damaged and out-of-use, these weapons were being temporarily stocked in a warehouse ahead of their destruction".

The anti-tank missiles were seized when forces loyal to the UN-recognised government in Tripoli overran a pro-Haftar base in Gharyan, 60 miles south of Tripoli.

The French military said Javelin missiles found in a rebel base in Libya were purchased by the French government from the United States but never intended for sale or transfer to any party.

They were discovered in a camp south of the capital Tripoli in June.

Paris argued that the missiles did not violate a United Nations arms embargo because they were originally meant to protect French forces combating jihadis in Libya, home to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). "The open question is whether or not they are actively supporting Hifter's forces in their offensive on Tripoli".

This is the first time since 2016 that France has officially confirmed that it still has special forces operating in Libya.

France has consistently denied arming Gen Haftar's forces, but has provided diplomatic toughen.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed daily, citing Libyan and Egyptian sources, said large-scale troop mobilisation was underway across Egypt's western border and Libya's southern border, with funding from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

In May, the government posted pictures showing the arrival of Turkish BMC Kirpi armored vehicles at Tripoli port.

France's role in the conflict under President Emmanuel Macron has caused tensions.

Haftar is increasingly seen by his allies as a bulwark against Islamists in Libya who gained a foothold after the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

He invited Haftar along with Sarraj to a peace conference in Paris in 2017 which was seen as giving the rebel commander worldwide legitimacy for the first time.

The fight for Tripoli - home of the internationally recognised govt - began when Gen Haftar's forces launched an attack in April, with a complete bunch killed within the months since.

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