Egypt, UAE establish Libyan naval commando unit to fight Turkey
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 10 March 2020 8:35 AM
Backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt has reportedly set up a special naval operations force made up of Libyan commandos, which is tasked with targeting Turkish naval interests off Libyan coasts.
The London-based newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed quoted Egyptian and Libyan sources as saying on Monday that the military squad is aimed at blocking the naval route that Turkey uses to send military aid to the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in the capital, Tripoli.
The force, which consists of around 50 fighters, returned to eastern Libya last week after receiving training from the Egyptian navy in one of the naval bases set up for this purpose, said the sources.
The squad will receive another batch of fighters who are still undergoing intensive training at one of the Egyptian naval bases, they said.
The sources further said that Abu Dhabi would supply advanced naval boats for the mission, which will be supervised by Egyptian military experts before being handed over to naval forces linked to renegade General Khalifa Haftar fighting the Tripoli government.
Haftar has launched an offensive since April 2019 to seize Tripoli.
Turkey has reportedly been transferring allied militants from Syria to Libya to shore up the Tripoli government.
Last month, the Libyan rebels claimed they had destroyed a Turkish cargo ship carrying ammunition and weapons at the port of Tripoli.
Haftar is supported by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE. His forces have deployed precision-guided Blue Arrow 7 missiles known to have been provided to the UAE.
In turn, the renegade general has slammed Turkey and Qatar for supplying weapons to his rivals.
According to the latest UN tally, more than 280 civilians and roughly 2,000 fighters have been killed in Haftar's offensive. An estimated 146,000 Libyans have been displaced.
Libya plunged into chaos in 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his execution by unruly fighters.
The North African country has since been split between two rival administrations based in the east and west amid a conflict drawing increasing involvement from foreign powers.
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