French troops in Libya

Three French soldiers were killed during a mission to gather intelligence in Libya, President Francois Hollande said Wednesday in the first official confirmation that France has troops in the country where IS controls a key city. Hollande said the troops died in a helicopter accident while taking part in “dangerous intelligence operations”. He did not say when the incident took place. Libyan sources gave a different account of events, telling AFP the M17 helicopter was shot down by surface-to-air missiles. They were “probably targeted by Islamist groups in the Magroun area, about 65 kilometres west of Benghazi” on Sunday, a commander of forces loyal to a controversial general, Khalifa Haftar, said. Another source close to Haftar — who opposes the internationally backed unity government in Tripoli as well as the Islamist factions that have overrun large parts of the country — said the dead soldiers were military advisors”.

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