The Foreign Ministry in Paris has vigorously denied that any French military source had stated that US commandos were operating covertly in southern Libya. It said that a report of the secret operations, carried in Saturday’s edition of the daily Le Figaro, which cited a military source in France, was completely untrue.

The Figaro article had claimed that members of the elite US Delta Force, masquerading as nomads and working with Libyan special forces, had entered southern Libya at the end of last year in an undercover search and destroy mission targeting Al-Qaeda.

“The information published in a Figaro article dated 1 February is unfounded. It did not emanate from French military sources,” a Foreign Ministry statement said. It added: “No foreign military intervention is being considered in southern Libya. Libya is a sovereign and independent country.