Published On: Tue, Jan 28th, 2020

Libya’s Tripoli-based government says it downed Haftar’s drone, ‘must be your own’ his forces respond (PHOTOS)

The UN-recognized Libyan government said it downed a drone operated by the UAE on behalf of Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar. But his forces said Tripoli must have shot down its own aircraft.

Photos of the drone wreckage, as well as the presumed moment of its downing near the northwestern city of Misrata, have been circulating online, but its ownership remains disputed. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said the drone was operated by the United Arab Emirates, the allies of Haftar. But his Libyan National Army (LNA) said the aircraft was not theirs and presumably belonged to Turkey, the ally of the GNA.

Both sides of the protracted Libyan conflict have been using air capability since their conflict escalated into outright war in April 2019, but Haftar’s forces have the advantage. UN monitors have counted some 850 precision air strikes by drones and another 170 by fighter-bomber aircraft by the LNA, compared to some 250 airstrikes by the GNA forces, the organization said this month.

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According to media reports, Haftar’s armed drone capability comes from the UAE, which has a handful of Chinese-made Wing Loong drones. The GNA was provided Bayraktar TB2 drones by Turkey.

Libya remains fractured since the NATO bombing campaign of 2011, which helped anti-government militias topple and kill long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi. The GNA and the LNA are the two principal power centers in the country now, both backed by foreign nations. Some smaller parts of the country are controlled by various tribal militias, criminal gangs, jihadist groups and similar players.

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