France said on Wednesday that anti-tank missiles it purchased from the US, which were later found in a Gheryan base belonging to Libya’s Khalifa Haftar were never intended for sale or transfer to any party in the Libyan conflict.
The Army Ministry said that the missiles were intended for the “self-protection of a French military unit deployed to carry out intelligence and counter-terrorism operations.”
The ministry said in a statement that the Javeline missiles were “damaged and unusable” and claimed “the armaments were being temporarily stocked at a depot ahead of their destruction.”
This is the first time since 2016 that France has officially confirmed that it still has special forces operating in Libya. However, it is not known how many troops exactly are deployed. France has given Haftar diplomatic support.
Analysts suggest that France’s backing for Haftar is related to militancy in the wider region — France has military presence in a few African nations. It is also likely that oil and the refugee crisis give France more reason to continue involvement here.