Three French soldiers die on intelligence mission in Libya

French President Francois Hollande confirms the troops died in a helicopter accident during a secret mission in Libya.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

French President Francois Hollande attends a news conference at the Belem Palace in Lisbon, Portugal, July 19, 2016

Updated Jul 21, 2016

French President Francois Hollande confirmed on Wednesday that three French soldiers died in a helicopter accident in Libya while carrying out “dangerous intelligence operations.”

"Three of our soldiers, who were involved in these operations, have been killed in a helicopter accident," Hollande said in a speech.

It is the first time the French government confirmed that French special forces operate in Libya.

Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has also confirmed the deaths, praising the troops for their “courage and devotion” without providing any further information.

France lead the NATO air campaign to overthrow leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 along with Britain.

The two countries, in cooperation with the United States, have been advising forces loyal to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, which have been battling militants and other opponents in Benghazi for more than two years.

DAESH has taken advantage of the breakdown in central authority to establish a stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte.

Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government look at DAESH positions before a battle in Sirte, Libya, July 15, 2016

TRTWorld and agencies