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Iran Press TV

Libya's Intl.-backed govt. denounces overnight airstrikes against recently-recaptured airbase

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 05 July 2020 6:02 PM

Libya's UN-backed government has lambasted alleged overnight airstrikes against a recently-retaken strategic airbase in the war-torn country's west, stressing that the raids were conducted by a "foreign air force."

Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged in Libya, namely the internationally-recognized government, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA), and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

The second powerhouse is supported militarily by Libya's renegade General Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are collectively known as the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA).

The strongman, supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan, launched a deadly offensive to capture Tripoli, the seat of the GNA, in April last year. His forces, however, failed to advance past the city's outskirts. Early last month, they even lost those areas to the advancing GNA forces, which are fully supported by Turkey.

Back in May, the GNA forces recaptured the al-Watiya airbase, some 140 kilometers southwest of the capital, from Haftar's forces. He claims that Turkey had purportedly used the base to help GNA forces to thwart the LNA's offensive against Tripoli.

On Sunday, GNA's deputy defense minister Salah Namrush said in a statement that several "raids" had been carried out on Saturday night " against al-Watiya base … by a foreign air force in support of the war criminal in a miserable and desperate attempt to achieve a morale boosting victory" for Haftar's forces.

He added that a "response, in the right place and at the right time" would serve as a future deterrent for such acts. However, he did not specify which foreign air force was suspected to be behind the strikes.

Earlier, pro-Haftar media, citing military sources, had claimed that the air raids were carried out by "unknown planes" that purportedly targeted a Turkish aerial defense system installed at the airbase.

The sources further claimed that Turkish soldiers deployed at the base had suffered casualties.

However, Turkey's official news agency, citing an unnamed GNA military official, said that the strikes on al-Watiya had been conducted by "unidentified planes" and that there had been no casualties, but it admitted that that "materials recently deployed to reinforce anti-aerial capacities were damaged."

International attempts to bring about peace between the two warring sides have so far failed.

Oil-rich Libya plunged into chaos in 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster, and later killing, of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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