The New York Times reported that the four U.S.-made Javelin anti-tank missiles found in Libya, in a base controlled by rebel leader General Khalifa Hafter, were originally sold to France. The U.S. State Department investigated the origins of the weapons, using the serial numbers, and came to the conclusion that the weapons were sold to France in 2010.
A French military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, denied allegations of transferring the weapons to Hafter. The transfer would have violated a UN arms embargo. Hafter has been leading an offensive on Tripoli, against the UN backed national unity government. The battle in Tripoli has led to over 1000 deaths since April, including 106 civilians, according to the UN.
France is suspected of providing Hafter with military assistance during his offensive on the Libyan city of Benghazi from 2014-2017, where his headquarters are now. Hafter took the city from Islamic militants. In 2016 three French special forces soldiers died in a helicopter crash near Benghazi, which an Islamic militia took credit for. A year later, France told a UN panel that their involvement in Libya conformed to international law.
Markings on the missiles’ shipping container originally indicated they were sold to the United Arab Emirates, who also denied giving them to Hafter. Although the UAE did provide him with attack helicopters, warplanes and drones during his assault on Benghazi.
Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US Foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.