France has confirmed that missiles seized last month from forces loyal to Libyan renegade general Khalifa Haftar belonged to the French military.
The French Defense Ministry announced in a statement on Wednesday that the four US-made Javelin anti-tank missiles discovered by government forces in one of Haftar’s bases in the strategic town of Gharyan, south of the Libyan capital of Tripoli had been purchased by France in 2010.
The ministry said the missiles were intended for the “protection of a French military unit deployed to carry out intelligence and counter-terrorism operations” in Libya, itself a first-time admission of French military presence in the North African country since 2016.
It also said the four missiles were damaged and unusable and had been in a temporary depot and scheduled for destruction.
The ministry did not explain how the weapons ended up in the base used by Haftar.
The renegade general is waging an offensive on the Libyan capital. Nevertheless, he is supported by the French government and has met with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
A French military adviser denied that the missiles were transferred to Haftar, according to The New York Times.
The anti-tank missiles, worth 170,000 dollars each, were seized in June when the Tripoli-based government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj retook Gharyan, home to the main supply base of forces loyal to Haftar.Government officials said at the time that the markings on the missiles — jointly manufactured by the US arms giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin — indicated that they had originally been sold to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major buyer of US arms and one of Haftar’s main supporters.