Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) announced that it targeted the construction site of a Turkish base in the vicinity of the Misrata Aerial College, London based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Monday.
The air strike targeted Turkey’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) parts as well as miscellaneous military equipment in warehouses that pose a threat to Libya’s army forces and civilians, it said, citing the Main Operations Room of the LNA.
Ankara backs the Islamist-rooted government in Tripoli, while LNA, which is supported by Turkey’s regional rivals Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, accuses Turkey of funding and arming Islamist factions in Libya fighting on the side of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
Supporting the construction of a foreign country’s military base in Libya is treason against the country’s independence, the LNA Command General said.
The reason the Turkish base was targeted was that Turkey continued its military support for the city of Misrata, which in turn is targeted by the LNA air force for contributing to the war effort against the operation to “liberate Tripoli from armed militia,” continued the statement. According to the command general, the only way to end the attack would be if the city’s neutrality is established and the militia therein are not supported.
Asharq Al-Awsat cited a local electronic observatory that on August 18 published documents of the UAVs and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) Turkey provided for the GNA as well as other military equipment in a warehouse. This warehouse was completely destroyed, according to the observatory, as it was considered a potential permanent base for Turkey like those in the north of Syria.
Contrary to the LNA’s claim that the air strike was carried out because of military use in favour of the GNA and that it targeted warehouses where Turkish UCAVs were stored, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemned LNA’s attacks against the Zuvara airport to the west of Libya, arguing that the air strike caused severe damage to the airport’s infrastructure. The UNSMIL said any attacks against civilians or civilian institutions are severe violations of international human rights.
The UNSMIL sent units to the area to inspect the airport after two air strikes on August 15 and 16, and the LNA pointed out that the assessment unit confirmed that there was no military fleets or institutions in the Zuvara airport after inspecting all buildings. The findings of the inspection will be shared with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), experts and other international committees.
In the aftermath of the air strikes, the GNA’s Interior Minister Fathi Ali Bashagha met with the new U.S. Ambassador for Tripoli Richard B. Norland on August 18 to discuss efforts against terrorism and drugs as well as the development of relations and ways for cooperation.
On August 17, the GNA’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Siyala had met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to discuss how the conflict in Tripoli can be stopped.
Minister Çavuşoğlu posted on Twitter after the meeting and said the international community should display a united and principled stance to stop clashes in Libya.