February 9, 2019 / 1:42 PM / 11 days ago

Scores of Chadian rebels held after French air strikes

N’DJAMENA (Reuters) - Scores of rebels are in army custody in northern Chad following air strikes this week to repel an incursion from Libya, Chad’s army and intelligence sources said on Saturday.

The army said it had captured more than 250 rebels from the Union of Forces of Resistance (UFR), a Libya-based rebel coalition that is trying to topple President Idriss Deby, and destroyed more than 40 of their vehicles.

The rebels drove about 50 pick-up trucks more than 600 km (370 miles) into Chadian territory almost unopposed before facing several days of French and Chadian air strikes.

Two intelligence sources told Reuters that only about 100 rebels were being held after surrendering.

France’s military said on Wednesday that its warplanes had destroyed about 20 pick-up trucks after a request from Deby for support.

France sees Deby, who came to power in a 1990 coup, as key to a wider regional fight against Islamist militants. Human rights activists say he has cracked down on dissent.

Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Aaron Ross; editing by John Stonestreet

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