Three French special forces soldiers killed on Libya intelligence mission

Three French special forces soldiers have been killed in Libya during an intelligence-gathering mission, president Francois Hollande said on Wednesday. They died when their helicopter was reportedly downed by Islamist militia outside Benghazi on Sunday. “At this moment we are carrying out dangerous intelligence operations (in Libya),” Mr Hollande said in a speech. “Three of our soldiers, who were involved in these operations, have been killed in a helicopter accident.”

Yes, special forces are there. To help and also ensure that France is present everywhere in the fight against terrorists.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll

Paris took a leading role in the NATO air campaign that helped rebels overthrow autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country later descended into years of chaos. Although it became known earlier this year that French troops were in the country, Wednesday’s announcement was he first public acknowledgment by Mr Hollande that French troops were in Libya. Earlier, the French defence ministry said it deplored the deaths of the French troops, thought to have died alongside at least one Libyan, praising the “bravery and devotion of French military personnel who each day are carrying out dangerous missions against terrorists”.

The last thing we want to do is intervene in Libya. We need to avoid open military engagement, so we must act discreetly

French military source, speaking in February