France on Wednesday admitted that it is the owner of American-made anti-tank missiles found at a rebel military base in Libya, raising awkward questions about European involvement in the civil war.
France's Army Ministry said the four Javelin missiles discovered at a base used by General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army were intended for "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," it said in a statement on Wednesday.
It said the weapons, found in the mountains south of Tripoli by forces loyal to the UN-backed government, were never intended for sale or transfer to any party to Libya's conflict.
The statement did not explain how many French soldiers are in the country or why they were operating in close proximity to Gheryan, the LNA's main headquarters for its controversial assault on Tripoli.
The Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) claims to have spotted French soldiers serving among the forces of General Khalifa Haftar. Commander of the GNA’s First Infantry Brigade, Mustapha Al-Machai, claimed to have spotted six cars carrying French soldiers who had been stationed at Haftar’s operations room in the city of Gharyan, south of Libyan capital Tripoli.
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