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3 soldiers died in Libya intelligence mission

Libya: French President Francois Hollande said the three soldiers had been killed in a helicopter crash during an intelligence-gathering operation. Officials also said confirming for the first time that members of France’s special forces are engaged in operations in the North African country.

French special forces, in conjunction with Britain and the US, have been advising forces loyal to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, which have been battling opponents in Benghazi for more than two years. A group called the Benghazi Defence Brigades claimed to have shot down the aircraft.

Hollande said “At this moment we are carrying out dangerous intelligence operations [in Libya].” France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement that he regretted “the loss of three French officers who died while on mission in Libya” – but gave no further information as to where or how the troops were killed.