Libya: 3 French soldiers die in helicopter crash

Author : Mircea Birca | Thursday, July 21, 2016
Posted in category Africa, Africa News, Eurasia, Eurasia News
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imgPresident Francois Hollande said on Wednesday three French soldiers were killed in a helicopter accident in Libya during an intelligence-gathering mission in the North African state.

They are the first confirmed Western military casualties since it became known this year that special forces were operating on the ground in Libya.

“At this moment we are carrying out dangerous intelligence operations (in Libya),” Hollande said in a speech.

“Three of our soldiers, who were involved in these operations, have been killed in a helicopter accident.”

Libyan military officials would not comment on a report that the French nationals were in a helicopter that crashed near Benghazi on Sunday.

Officials said at the time that four people died in the crash, all of them Libyan.

However, the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), a recently formed force of militants and other fighters, claimed after the helicopter crash that it had shot the aircraft down, killing four people, according to a statement posted on social media accounts close to the group.

The statement said that the helicopter was an M135 belonging to Haftar’s forces and that two foreigners and two Libyans were killed when the group shot it down with a rocket.

Pictures purporting to show the wreckage of the helicopter were also posted. The BDB includes fighters pushed out of Benghazi by Haftar’s forces.

Meanwhile, France and the United States are preparing a coordinated strike against Daesh on the militant group’s stronghold in Mosul, Iraq, French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said.

“(French Defence Minister) Jean Yves Le Drian is in Washington. He is preparing with the Americans a coordinated attack on Mosul,” le Foll said on France Info radio.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault spoke about a Washington meeting of the anti-Daesh coalition in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.

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