Defense Benghazi Brigades say French avenging airstrikes killed 13 fighters today
Benghazi Defense Brigades said on Wednesday that 13 of its forces were killed and others wounded in what it described a ”vengeance” French airstrike on their locations in western Benghazi, targeting their vehicles and fighters alongside Khalifa Haftar’s Dignity Operation aircraft.
“We blame these airstrikes on western forces, who are obviously leading the war with Haftar on us from Benghazi and are led by French Special Forces troops, who carried out Wednesday’s raids to retaliate for the killing of three of their troops on Sunday when we downed their helicopter.” Benghazi Defense Brigades official stated.
France’s defense ministry said Wednesday morning that three of its soldiers have died in Libya, reportedly after their helicopter was shot down. A short statement said the soldiers died “while on mission” in the North African country.
On Wednesday afternoon, the French President, François Hollande, said in a statement to the press that French Special Forces troops are on a very dangerous intelligence mission in Libya and three of them died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
On Sunday, the Benghazi Defense Brigades said it had used an SA-7 shoulder-fired missile and heavy machine guns to down the aircraft, which belonged to Dignity Operation forces under the command of Khalifa Haftar.
Mattia Toaldo, Libya analyst at the European Centre for Foreign Relations think-tank, said France is a strong supporter of the unity government, but that it is pursuing a narrow antiterrorism goal in eastern Libya by helping in “target spotting” for Gen Haftar’s forces.
[su_quote cite=”he said”]The intention is to fight Isis but the risk is to get involved in Libya’s civil war[/su_quote]
[su_quote]There are also political consequences, support for the rivals of the unity government strengthens them. The outcome could be counterproductive for the political process they are supporting.[/su_quote]