Libyan govt shoots down ‘UAE drone’
TRIPOLI: Libya’s unity government said yesterday it had shot down an Emirati-supplied drone operated by forces led by eastern commander Khalifa Haftar near Misrata in western Libya. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord said its “anti-aircraft defences” had shot down the drone east of Misrata, Libya’s third largest city.
That came days after the United Nations slammed “continued blatant violations” of a 2011 arms embargo, despite world leaders committing in mid-January to upholding the blockade. The GNA yesterday posted images on Facebook showing what appeared to be a Chinese-made Wing Loong drone. Experts say Haftar has procured a number of the aircraft from his main backer, the United Arab Emirates.
Haftar, who controls much of eastern and southern Libya, launched an offensive in April to seize the capital Tripoli, in the country’s northwest, from the GNA. His advance stalled on the edge of the capital, but in early January he captured the strategic coastal city of Sirte. On Sunday his forces clashed with those of the GNA in the Abu Grein region, on the road west from Sirte towards Misrata, the hometown of many of the forces backing the GNA. The advanced UAEsupplied drones have given Haftar an advantage in the skies.
Turkey has supplied the GNA with Bayraktar drones, but they have proven less sophisticated and prone to being shot down by Haftar’s forces. On Sunday, Germany’s foreign ministry echoed UN concerns over arms flowing to Libya, citing “a series of unconfirmed but credible reports of embargo violations on both sides”. That comes despite a January 12 ceasefire announced by Haftar backer Moscow and pro-GNA Ankara. Each side has repeatedly accused the other of violations. — AFP