President Francois Hollande had authorized “unofficial military action” by both an elite armed forces unit and the covert action service of the DGSE intelligence agency in Libya.
A major new report broken by France’s newspaper Le Monde today revealed that the nation has been engaged in a secret war in Libya, in which French special forces have been carrying out “covert action” strikes against ISIS and other factions with the backing of Britain and the United States.
French President Francois Hollande is said to have authorized an “unofficial military action” in Libya at some point after the November ISIS attacks in Paris. France also established a military base in northern Niger, along the Libyan border, to facilitate the offensive. Le Monde confirmed that the troops have been in Libya at least since mid-February.
The French Defense Ministry refused to officially confirm or deny whether they are engaged in any secret wars in Libya, but would say that they are launching a formal investigation into the leaks which led to the story breaking in Le Monde.
Le Monde also quoted a French defense official who insisted on anonymity as saying France wanted to avoid “overt military engagement” in Libya at all costs, but also really wanted to intervene there against the growing ISIS affiliate.
The US also confirmed in late January that they have a “small” presence of ground troops in Libya, though they’ve insisted those troops by and large are not engaged in military operations, but are rather courting various Libyan factions as potential allies for a bigger future war.
US, French, and British officials have been holding meetings too talking up the idea that they’re planning an operation in Libya, though it seems they didn’t want to wait until they were done selling the narrative to start the war, and decided to just go ahead in secret.
By Jason Ditz