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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
'Criticised for strong ties': France's President Macron and Libyan eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar. (AFP)

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.

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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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