Libya Tribune

France says armaments were meant for ‘self-protection’ of counter-terrorism unit in Libya but were ‘unusable’.

The French military said on Wednesday several Javelin missiles found in a rebel base in Libya were purchased by the French government from the United States but were defective and were meant to have been destroyed.

In a statement sent to reporters the army ministry said the missiles were intended for the “self-protection of a French military unit deployed to carry out counter-terrorism operations”.

“Damaged and unusable the armaments were being temporarily stocked at a depot ahead of their destruction” the ministry said adding that “they were not transferred to local forces”.

It is the first time since 2016 that France has publicly acknowledged it still has special forces deployed in Libya. It is not clear how many troops are deployed.

Last month Libyan troops loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) said they discovered a cache of US-made weapons they captured from forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in the town of Gharyan in the mountains south of the capital Tripoli.

Haftar relied on military assistance from the United Arab Emirates France and Egypt in his fight to capture the eastern city of Benghazi his current headquarters.

Mohammed Qununu a GNA military spokesman had previously said the seized weapons had markings on the missiles’ shipping containers stating that they belonged to the “Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates”.

However last week the UAE denied ownership of the weapons saying that Abu Dhabi is committed to the UN Security Council’s arms embargo in Libya – which has been in place since 2011.

“The UAE also urges all parties to de-escalate tensions and to re-engage in the UN’s political process” the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Purchased in 2010

On Tuesday The New York Times cited an adviser to the French armed forces minister saying that his country had bought the four Javelin missiles which cost more than $170000 each from the US in 2010.

France has long denied allegations that it is assisting Haftar on the ground while also giving him diplomatic support internationally.

In April the military commander launched an offensive on the Libyan capital seeking to overthrow the UN-recognised government of Fayez al-Sarraj triggering fighting that has claimed at least 1000 lives according to the World Health Organization.

Haftar and his backers say they are trying to free Tripoli from militias they accuse of destabilising Libya since the fall of Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

His critics accuse him of trying to seize power from the GNA through force and deepening a conflict between factions based in the east and west of the sprawling North African country.

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France says anti-tank missiles found in Libya were ‘unusable’

France said on Wednesday anti-tank missiles it bought from the United States and were later found in a base belonging to troops loyal to Libya’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar were never intended for sale or transfer to any party to Libya’s conflict.

The Army Ministry said the missiles were intended for the “self-protection of a French military unit deployed to carry out intelligence and counter-terrorism operations”.

Damaged and unusable, the armaments were being temporarily stocked at a depot ahead of their destruction,” the ministry said in a statement.

It is the first time since 2016 that France has publicly acknowledged it still has special forces deployed in Libya. It is not clear how many troops are deployed.

The cache of four Javelin anti-tank missiles were discovered after forces loyal to the U.N.-backed government raided the camp in Gheryan, in the mountains south of Tripoli, on June 26, the New York Times earlier reported.

Gheryan was the headquarters for Haftar’s forces as they massed for an assault on Tripoli in an attempt to overthrow the U.N.-backed government.

France broadly supports Haftar, regarding his forces as helpful in the fight against Islamist militants.

In its statement, the Army Ministry denied the Javelins had been transferred to a local force, and reiterated that the arms were not subject to import restrictions because they were intended for the protection of French troops.

France has long supported all established forces engaged in the fight against terrorism, in Libya, in the Tripoli area and in Cyrenaica (the east of the country), as well as more broadly in the Sahel,” it said.

It has never been a question of selling, yielding, loaning or transferring these munitions to anybody in Libya.”

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France denies supplying weapons found on rebel site in Libya

France’s military has said the weapons found at a pro-Haftar camp were not intended for use.

The French military said on Wednesday that missiles belonging to its forces found on a pro-Haftar rebel base in Libya had been purchased from the United States, but were never intended for sale or transfer to any party in Libya.

In a statement sent to reporters, France’s Army Ministry said the missiles were intended “for use by a French counter-terrorism unit deployed in Libya”.

“Damaged and unusable, the armaments were being temporarily stocked at a depot ahead of their destruction,” the ministry said.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that the cache of four Javelin anti-tank missiles was recovered by Libyan government forces during a surprise attack on a rebel camp in the town of Gheryan located in the mountains south of Tripoli.

France has long been criticised for having strong ties to Libyan eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar and providing him with assistance on the ground – allegations the country denies.

The admission of finding French weapons on a rebel base could prove embarrassing for the country. If France was confirmed to have provided rebels in Libya with arms, it would be in violation of a 2011 United Nations arms embargo as well as a sales agreement with the United States.

France still has special forces in Libya, although it remains unclear how many troops are actually deployed.

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France says Javelin missiles found in Libya were unusable

French military says the Javelin missiles found in Libya were not intended for resale. The purpose of the missiles was for a French operation.

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

In a statement sent to reporters, the Army Ministry said the missiles were intended for the “self-protection of a French military unit deployed to carry out counter-terrorism operations.”

Damaged and unusable, the armaments were being temporarily stocked at a depot ahead of their destruction,” the ministry said.

The New York Times reported earlier that the cache of four Javelin anti-tank missiles were recovered last month by Libyan government forces during a raid on a rebel camp in the town of Gheryan, in the mountains south of Tripoli.

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US missiles found on pro-Haftar base in Libya belonged to France

Powerful American missiles found on a base used by forces loyal to Libya’s Khalifa Haftar were originally from France, the French defence ministry said Wednesday, but denied supplying them to the rebels, which would be a breach of a UN arms embargo.

Paris said the US-made Javelin missiles, priced at more than $170,000 each and found in a camp south of Tripoli, had been given to French forces operating in the war-torn country, but were defective and were meant to have been destroyed.

“They were not transferred to local forces,” a statement from the ministry said.

Four Javelin missiles, normally supplied only to close US allies, were discovered on June 29 when forces loyal to the UN-recognised government in Tripoli overran a base in Gheryan used by men under the command of Haftar.

They were shown to reporters at the time, leading to an investigation in Washington to determine who owned the weapons, which can be used against tanks and other vehicles. The State Department concluded the missiles were originally sold to France as part of a 2010 sale.

“These weapons were for the protection of forces undertaking intelligence and counter-terror missions,” the French statement added.

The admission is potentially embarrassing for France which has long denied allegations that it is assisting Haftar on the ground while also giving him diplomatic support internationally.

Questions have been raised as to how the missiles came into the hands of Haftar’s forces. French forces deployed in Libya have largely been based in the east, far from Tripoli near where the base was located.

On April 4, Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli seeking to overthrow the UN-recognised government of Fayez al-Sarraj, triggering fighting that has claimed at least 1,000 lives.

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 Gaddafi.

Shells bearing the markings of the army of the United Arab Emirates were also shown to journalists after being found at the base in Gheryan, according to forces loyal to the Tripoli government.

The UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are seen as key supporters of Haftar. In May, an investigation by Al-Jazeera Arabic TV revealed that cargo planes were found to be dropping off unidentified material at airbases controlled by general Haftar.

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