UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Libyan rebels overhaul, operationalize old S-200 systems: Report

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 30 July 2020 7:15 AM

Rebel forces in Libya have purportedly overhauled and operationalized old Russian-built S-200 air defense systems to use them against government forces and Turkey.

The Arabic-language Libya News said on Wednesday that the systems were deployed in the vicinity of the eastern cities of Benghazi, Sirte, and Zelten to help monitor "any hostile aerial activity" by Libyan government forces and their main ally, Turkey.

The website added that the S-200 air defense systems had been purchased under former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi and that most of their parts had been lost and destroyed or had been in poor condition due to a lack of maintenance after the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011.

The missile systems were properly maintained and overhauled by the rebel forces and were ready to "repel airstrikes from Ankara or Tripoli," the report said.

The S-200 is a long range, medium-to-high altitude surface-to-air missile system designed in the 1960s to target enemy aircraft.

Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for the rebel forces, had earlier said that the strategic city of Sirte on the Mediterranean coastline – which the Libyan government has over the past months been pushing to recapture – had been "reinforced." Sirte fell into the rebels' hands in January.

Libya has been beset by chaos since the overthrow and killing of Gaddafi and the NATO intervention in 2011.

Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged, namely the internationally-recognized Libyan government, headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, in Tripoli, and another group, which is based in the eastern city of Tobruk and which is supported militarily by the rebels under the command of a military strongman named Khalifa Haftar.

The rebels – who are backed by the UAE, Russia, and Egypt – launched an offensive to seize the capital and unseat Sarraj's government in April 2019. But the government launched a counter-offensive and has recently managed to reverse many of their gains both around the capital and elsewhere in the country with crucial help from Turkey.

The Turkish military has been providing air cover, weapons, and proxy militia from Syria to help the Libyan government.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list