French special forces involved in 'secret war' in Libya

French newspaper Le Monde says French special forces and intelligence commandos engage in joint operations with United States and Britain in Libya

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reacts during a news conference at the French Defence Ministry in Paris, France, January 20, 2016.

French army forces and intelligence commandos are involved in joint operations against DAESH in Libya along with the United States and Britain, the daily French newspaper Le Monde reported on Wednesday.

The report said French President Francois Hollande had a warrant for "unofficial military action" by both elite army forces and the covert action service of the DGSE intelligence agency, in the war-torn North African state, which has two rival governments and largely ungoverned desert spaces.

What Le Monde called "France's secret war in Libya" included casual strikes against DAESH top leaders, but the French Ministry refused to comment on Le Monde’s report.

Hollande said that France has been in a war against DAESH ever since the terrorist organisation claimed responsibility for serial attacks in Paris on bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national soccer stadium on Nov 13, which killed 130 people.

The French Defence Ministry has already confirmed that the country started to carry out reconnaissance flights in Libya where the French-leading NATO air campaign was set up in order to help rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi.

The ministry also confirmed that France has established a military base in northern Niger on the country’s Libyan border.

US warplanes struck a DAESH training camp in Libya last Friday in attacks that killed nearly 50 people including two Serbian embassy employees abducted last November, according to Serbia's prime minister.

American officials said the site in Sabratha, western Libya, was used by up to 60 militants, including Tunisian Noureddine Chouchane, blamed for two attacks on tourists in Tunisia last year in which dozens were killed.

Le Monde said French intelligence had initiated a previous strike last November that killed an Iraqi known by the nom de guerre Abu Nabil who was the senior DAESH leader in Libya at the time.

Le Monde said specialist bloggers had reported sightings of French special forces in eastern Libya since mid-February.

It quoted a senior French defence official as saying, "The last thing to do would be to intervene in Libya. We must avoid any overt military engagement, but act discreetly."

TRTWorld, Reuters