French missiles found on rogue Libyan general’s base


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French military officials Wednesday denied violating a U.N. arms embargo after several of their missiles were found on a base loyal to a rogue Libyan general.

The officials said the U.S.-made Javelin missiles were never intended to be passed to any group and the anti-tank missiles were defective and meant to have been destroyed.

The missiles were discovered in a camp south of the capital Tripoli used by forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, who is currently fighting for control of the city, the BBC reported.

Libyan forces loyal to the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) said they discovered a cache of U.S.-made weapons when they overran the camp in June.

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A picture taken in Tripoli on June 29, 2019, shows fighters loyal to the internationally-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) displaying precision guided munition, which were reportedly confiscated from forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar in Gharyan.  The United States said it was looking into a report that American anti-tank missiles were found by forces loyal to Libya's unity government at a captured rebel base. The missiles were apparently discovered earlier this week when forces loyal to the Government of National Accord recaptured the strategic town of Gharyan in a surprise attack, seizing the main supply base for Haftar's Tripoli offensive. (Photo by - / AFP/Getty Images) 

A picture taken in Tripoli on June 29, 2019, shows fighters loyal to the internationally-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) displaying precision guided munition, which were reportedly confiscated from forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar in Gharyan.  The United States said it was looking into a report that American anti-tank missiles were found by forces loyal to Libya’s unity government at a captured rebel base. The missiles were apparently discovered earlier this week when forces loyal to the Government of National Accord recaptured the strategic town of Gharyan in a surprise attack, seizing the main supply base for Haftar’s Tripoli offensive. (Photo by – / AFP/Getty Images) 

The government in Paris subsequently released a statement, acknowledging ownership of the weapons and stated they could have been used against tanks and other vehicles.

“These weapons were for the protection of forces undertaking intelligence and counter-terror missions,” said France’s defense ministry, adding the country had purchased four Javelin missiles from the U.S. in 2010. Al Jazeera reported the missiles cost more than $170,000 each.

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FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2017, file photo, Libyan militia commander General Khalifa Hifter meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. Hifter, who once lived in northern Virginia and now commands an army vying for control of his native country, has been accused in a civil lawsuit of war crimes. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria by Libyan family members who say their loved ones were killed when forces controlled by Khalifa Hifter conducted bombings in civilian neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 14, 2017, file photo, Libyan militia commander General Khalifa Hifter meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. Hifter, who once lived in northern Virginia and now commands an army vying for control of his native country, has been accused in a civil lawsuit of war crimes. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria by Libyan family members who say their loved ones were killed when forces controlled by Khalifa Hifter conducted bombings in civilian neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)

However, Mohammed Qununu, a military spokesman for the GNA, previously said the seized weapons had markings on their containers indicating they belonged to the “Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates.”

The UAE denied ownership of the weapons last week, saying Abu Dhabi is committed to the 2011 U.N. Security Council’s arms embargo in Libya, Al Jazeera reported.

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

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Libya has been torn apart by violence since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was dethroned and killed in 2011. Since overthrown, Libya has been in a state of anarchy and is divided among several political and military factions. The two major groups include the U.N- backed GNA, led by Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj, and General Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

Both factions have international supporters, with the LNA backed by Egypt, Russia and Saudi Arabia. The GNA is supported by Turkey, Qatar and most Western nations. Since the offensive on Tripoli, the U.N., the U.S. and the European Union have called for a ceasefire and immediate talks.

Fox News’ Morgan Cheung contributed to this report.

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Tonya Frazier

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