The French embassy in Libya categorically denied the presence of soldiers or military personnel in Gharyan. It is not clear how the weapons ended up in the control of Khalifa Haftar's LNA militia in the town.
The French military said on Wednesday several Javelin missiles found in a rebel base in Libya were purchased by the French government from the United States but were never intended for sale or transfer to any party to the Libya conflict.
In a statement sent to reporters, the army ministry said the missiles were intended for the "self-protection of a French military unit deployed to carry out counter-terrorism operations."
"Damaged and unusable, the armaments were being temporarily stocked at a depot ahead of their destruction," the ministry said.
Forces belonging to Libya's UN-recognised GNA government announced they found US-made weapons at a base belonging to warlord Khalifa Haftar's militants after retaking control of Gharyan town.
Haftar's militia launched an offensive on Tripoli earlier this year and had been using Gharyan as their main supply base to attack the capital.
L'ambassade de 🇨🇵 en Libye dément catégoriquement la présence de soldats ou personnel militaire français à Gharyan #FakeNews— La France en Libye (@AmbaFranceLibye) July 1, 2019
The seized weapons included four Javelin anti-tank missiles packed in wooden crates marked "armed forces of the United Arab Emirates."
During the same time, a tweet by the French embassy in Libya had categorically denied the presence of French soldiers or military personnel in Gharyan.
Following the discovery of the weapons, the US State Department investigated the origins of the missiles, using their serial numbers and other information, and concluded that they had originally been sold to France, according to a report by The New York Times.
France has in the past supported Haftar. It is not clear how the weapons ended up under the control of Haftar's LNA militia.
Each Javelin missile costs more than $170,000 and is usually sold only to close US allies with the sales agreement usually containing a non-transfer conditionality.
The missiles, which were sold to France in 2010, have a shelf life of approximately 10 years and a range of 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles).
On Tuesday, a London-based newspaper reported that Emirati officials made agreements to provide Haftar with fighters from Sudan and neighbouring countries.
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed daily, citing Libyan and Egyptian sources, said large-scale troop mobilisation was underway across Egypt's western border and Libya's southern border, with funding from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
The newspaper, citing an Egyptian source, said agreements have been signed-in recent days with African militias from countries neighbouring Sudan to take part in Haftar's operation to capture Tripoli in return for money.