Libyan government asks France to account for French weapons in rebel army’s hands

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Sayala on Thursday demanded France’s explanation why French weapons were seized by the government forces from the eastern-based army recently.

Sayala asked his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian “how French weapons found in Gharyan city were acquired by (General Khalifa) Haftar’s forces, when they were shipped, and how they were delivered,” the ministry said in a statement later Thursday.

“The minister also demanded his French counterpart reveal the volume of those weapons, whose presence (in Libya) contradicts what the French government declares in international forums and bilateral meetings,” the statement said.

Shortly after taking over the city of Gharyan, some 80 km south of the capital city Tripoli, the government forces announced they found Javelin missiles the army left behind before fleeing the city.

The east-based rebel army has been leading a military campaign since early April to take over Tripoli, where the government is based.

The French Ministry of Defense said the weapons belonged to a special French anti-terrorist force in Libya and were meant to be destroyed.

“Damaged and unusable, the armaments were being temporarily stocked at a depot ahead of their destruction,” the ministry said.

According to the World Health Organization, the fighting in and around Tripoli has so far killed more than 1,000 and injured over 5,000 others.

Libya has been suffering escalating violence and political instability since the fall of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.