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TRIPOLI, Libya (AA) – Libyan government institutions on Wednesday lined up to condemn the French military presence in the country, describing it as “a violation of Libya’s sovereignty”.
The condemnations came following a confirmation by French President Francois Hollande that three French troops had been killed earlier this week when their helicopter crashed near Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi.
According to French officials, the soldiers had been on a special counter-terrorism mission in the conflict-ridden North African nation’s eastern region when their chopper went down.
On Wednesday, demonstrations held to protest French military activity in the country were held in the Libyan cities of Zawiya, Sabratha, Misurata and Gharyan, along with capital Tripoli.
In a statement, the Presidential Council associated with Libya’s UN-backed unity government expressed its “extreme displeasure with French [military] actions being conducted in eastern Libya without our knowledge”.
The council went on to assert that international efforts with the ostensible aim of eradicating terrorism did not justify foreign interventions in Libya without the knowledge of the Libyan government.
Libya’s Supreme State Council also condemned unsanctioned French military activity in the country, describing it as a “clear deception by a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a sponsor of the [December 2015] political agreement”.
Libya’s Supreme State Council was established in the wake of the UN-brokered Skhirat Agreement, which was signed last December by Libya’s rival political camps.
The council also called on the UN to issue a condemnation of alleged French assistance to forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a prominent Libyan military figure who in 2015 was appointed army chief by Libya’s Tobruk-based government.
Condemnations of French military activity in Libya were also voiced by leaders of the unity government’s army general staff, the country’s grand mufti and spokesmen for Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood group.
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