France has denied breaching a UN arms embargo after four of its anti-tank missiles were found on a base loyal to a rogue Libyan general.
The country’s defence ministry says the “unusable” US-made Javelin missiles were never intended to be passed to any group, and were due to be destroyed.
However, they were discovered in a camp south of the capital Tripoli, used by forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar.
Gen Haftar’s forces are currently fighting for control of the city.
The battle for Tripoli – home of the internationally recognised government – began when Gen Haftar’s forces launched an attack in April, with hundreds killed in the months since.
The four missiles were discovered in June when forces loyal to the UN-backed government overran the camp, prompting an investigation in Washington.
France admitted the weapons – which can be used against tanks and other vehicles – belonged to them in a statement on Wednesday.
“These weapons were for the protection of forces undertaking intelligence and counter-terror missions,” the defence ministry statement said.
It added the missiles were “damaged and unusable” and “being temporarily stocked at a depot ahead of their destruction”.
France has always denied arming Gen Haftar’s forces, but has offered diplomatic support.