France confirms three of its soldiers were killed in helicopter downing

Libyan emergency personnel inspect the wreckage of a military helicopter that crashed during an airshow in the eastern city of Benghazi on July 4, 2013, killing two crew members and wounding a third, an airforce official told AFP. The accident occurred while a military parade was underway at the Benina airbase in Benghazi, Libya's second city and cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi. AFP PHOTO/ABDULLAH DOMA        (Photo credit should read ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Libyan emergency personnel inspect the wreckage of a military helicopter that crashed during an airshow in the eastern city of Benghazi on July 4, 2013, killing two crew members and wounding a third, an airforce official told AFP. The accident occurred while a military parade was underway at the Benina airbase in Benghazi, Libya’s second city and cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi. ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP/Getty Images

France’s defence ministry says 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.

Earlier on Wednesday, ministry spokesman Stephane Le Foll confirmed French special forces were in Libya.

On Tuesday, Associated Press quoted Libyan officials as saying a fighting faction shot down a French helicopter.

The attack on Sunday happened near the city of Benghazi, and left no survivors, AP reported.

Mr Le Foll, in an interview with France Info radio on Wednesday, said French special forces were in Libya to “ensure that France is present everywhere in the fight against terrorism”.

While France had previously said its warplanes were carrying out reconnaissance flights over Libya, this is the first formal confirmation that France has special forces inside
France’s defence ministry says three of its soldiers have died in Libya, reportedly after their helicopter was shot down.

Le Monde also said that French intelligence officials were also stationed inside Libya to help the fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Benghazi was the birthplace of the 2011 uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi, but has since seen heavy violence between rival Islamist militiasfficials.

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