France says its missiles found on Libyan faction’s base

Paris: US-made anti-tank missiles reportedly found on a base used by a Libyan faction belonged to France but were not useable, the French Defence Ministry admitted on Wednesday.
The ministry’s acknowledgement confirmed a report by the New York Times.
Fighters aligned to the UN-backed Libyan government reportedly found the Javelin missiles in the town of Gharyan after driving out forces loyal to eastern Libyan military chief Khalifa Haftar last month.
The find added to controversy about foreign involvement in the conflict, after Haftar launched an offensive against the capital Tripoli in April.
Analysts say Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have been backing Haftar while regional rival Turkey supports the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
The UN-backed government of National Accord has previously accused France of backing Haftar. Paris denies that.
France said the missiles were in temporary storage, pending destruction, after being damaged beyond use. It denied that they had been transferred to any Libyan forces. The country is under a UN arms embargo.
The weapons had been intended for use in self-defence by a French detachment gathering intelligence about terrorists, the defence ministry said.
It noted that France has supported both eastern and western Libyan forces fighting terrorism. But it did not immediately say whether the missiles had originally been put into storage in Gharyan or elsewhere, or whether they had been left there before or after Haftar’s forces took the strategic town in April.
The recapture of Gharyan by Tripoli-aligned forces in late June appeared to spell an end to Haftar’s hopes of quickly seizing the capital. — dpa