French Troops Backing Haftar Militias Withdraw From Benghazi

The special French troops that are supporting Khalifa Haftar’s militias withdrew from Benghazi three days ago, saying it is possible that they will come back again, according to military and security sources, reported Libya Observer.

Moreover, the same sources were quoted by Anadolu News Agency saying that they noticed the absence of the reconnaissance aircraft, which are probably for the French troops, over the last few days.

There are no clear reasons behind the move, however, it comes following the statement of the member of the UN-backed government, Mohammed Al-Emmari, who said France vowed to stop its military operations in Benghazi after it was informed that the government is upset about them, besides the summoning of the French Ambassador to Libya.

Last month, France stated an official statement admitting  that the French troops are operating in the Libyan eastern territories when it announced that French soldiers were killed while on an intelligence mission when their helicopter crashed in eastern Benghazi.

In addition, Middle East Eye reported at an earlier time it has obtained air traffic recordings that revealed a multinational military operation involving British, French and US forces is coordinating air strikes in support of General Khalifa Haftar battling Islamist militia groups from a base near Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Earlier, reports suggested the presence of an international operations center that is assisting Gen. Haftar in his campaign to gain eastern Libya from groups he has declared to be “extremist”.

The new leaked tapes obtained by Middle East Eye confirmed the previous reports. The recorded tapes reached to MEE from the Benina air base, which is considered to be Haftar’s most important military facility. The tapes showed at least one air strike that was heard being coordinated, which total just under an hour in length, suggesting the operations room is not simply being used for reconnaissance, reported MEE.

The unclear French troops’ withdrawal comes in parallel with the US-backed militias’ announcement of its control over ISIS’s last stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte. The militias claimed to have taken the heavily fortified Ouagadougou Center, which the Islamic State had used as its headquarters, according to New York Times.

Sirte Liberation was a political battle rather than a militarily one. Each militia-related to the rival Libyan factions considered winning Sirte battle as its succession pass to win the international community support to legitimize its control Libya.

However, the latest UN-backed government request to the United States of America to launch air strikes to support its militias that have been involved in the battle against ISIS would change the balance of power to the GNA’S favor.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) -also known as the UN-backed Government- has been struggling to gain control over Libya as well as the approval of Tobruk government and the house of representatives (HoR) that supports Haftar.