France on Thursday evening issued remarks on a group of armed French nationals who were briefly detained by the Tunisian authorities earlier this week after entering the country from Libya, Anadolu reports.
Paris insists that the 13-member group were members of a diplomatic “security team” tasked with guarding the French embassy in Libya.
According to reports in the local media, however, the group consisted of military advisers who were providing support to renegade Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar.
Early this month, Haftar launched a campaign — which remains ongoing — with the stated aim of capturing Libyan capital Tripoli.
In a statement posted on Facebook, French Ambassador to Tunisia Olivier Poivre d’Arvor said the group’s equipment, which was seized by the Tunisian authorities, would be sent to France.
According to d’Arvor, certain “military equipment” found in the group’s possession “was relevant to their task of protecting French Ambassador to Libya Beatrice du Hellen and securing her place of work [i.e., the embassy]”.
The diplomat went on to assert that the group’s movements in Tunisia had been “coordinated with the Tunisian authorities, including the defense, interior and foreign ministries”.