N'DJAMENA, Chad — Chad's military command said Tuesday that its forces killed more than 1,700 Libyan soldiers and destroyed more than two dozen aircraft and scores of tanks when it overran a major Libyan base over the weekend.
The command said that hundreds of other Libyan soldiers who fled into the desert from the Matan as Sarra base are likely to die of thirst.
The Chadian military reported that 65 of its soldiers were killed and 112 wounded in the battle.
In Washington, the State Department defended the Chadian strike, saying there are still as many as 5,000 Libyan soldiers in northern Chad.
On Saturday, Chadian troops intercepted a Libyan column en route to attack the northeastern Chad outpost of Ounianga Kebir, routed it and chased the invaders 60 miles back into Libya, capturing the Matan as Sarra base.
It was the first time in the Chad-Libya conflict that Chadian troops had attacked inside Libyan territory.
Libya responded Monday by sending bombers on two raids deep into Chad, losing one of their Tupolev 22 planes to an American-made Hawk anti-aircraft missile fired by French soldiers in the capital of N'Djamena.
The Chadian troops withdrew from Libya on Monday after destroying the base, the military said.
The military statement said 1,713 Libyanbodies had been counted.
Three MIG-23s and a helicopter were shot down and 22 aircraft were destroyed on the ground, the military command said.
The toll also included 70 tanks, nearly 300 vehicles of other types destroyed and 84 vehicles captured, the report said. Fuel facilities and both runways also were destroyed.