The Turkish Air Force organized the so-called “air bridge” — the air transportation of weapons and military equipment from Istanbul to Libya. Military transport planes make several flights a day to airfields controlled by the Government of National Accord (PNS). The forces loyal to him announced their intention to launch a new large-scale attack on the army of Khalifa Haftar.
Since the end of last month, the Turkish Air Force has dramatically stepped up flights to Libya. Between Istanbul and the Misurat air base, S-130s belonging to Ankara ply. Previously, flights were regularly made only by PNS and private airlines. The first direct flight S-130 of the Turkish Air Force was recorded at about the same time period — at the end of May 2020.
Earlier, the PNS announced an ultimatum to the forces of Field Marshal Haftar. It demanded to retreat from the cities of Tarhun and Beni Walid, where the main air bases are located, through which the Libyan National Army (LNA) is supplied. Otherwise, Saraj’s forces promise to launch a large-scale attack in several directions at once.
Such high-profile statements by the Government of National Accord regarding the troops of Khalifa Haftar led to the fact that the UAE and Egypt also intensified transport aviation flights to Libya. The main transportation is carried out at the bases of Al-Jouf and Beni Walid in central Libya and Al-Hadim in the eastern part of the country.
In connection with the events, the UN Acting Special Envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, said that Faez Saraj’s military build-up was alarming. She explained that this primarily concerns the PNS, as well as the mercenaries they attract.
Turkey still decided to raise rates and go all the way. The main flights with military assistance go to Misurata, which, unlike Tripoli, is outside the reach of the artillery fire of the LNA. Haftar aviation in May several times managed to attack the air base. But now, Turkish frigates are on duty next to her and create an “air defense” umbrella. So both airplanes and drones can act fearlessly.
In general, the course of the civil war in Syria changed suddenly. From the middle of last year to April, the current Haftar forces successfully attacked in several directions: they completely blocked the government’s oil export to Tripoli. Measures have already been taken to reduce the escalation of the conflict, a peaceful solution between the warring parties. However, direct armed intervention in the Turkish conflict changed the balance of power and led to the continuation of offensive actions by the PNS with the support of militants controlled by Ankara.
Field Marshal Haftar probably would like to conclude a truce, but the government of national accord is trying not to miss his chance and completely defeat his troops.
The UN has repeatedly tried this year to establish a long armistice in Libya. Ceasefires were announced to combat the coronavirus pandemic and in connection with the celebration of the holy Muslim festival of Ramadan. But none of them lasted more than a few days in view of the ongoing attacks by the army of the PNS and the Turkish rebel mercenaries.
Undoubtedly, the PNS will keep its promises and will soon launch a new attack on the Haftar army, which, of course, will delay the process of peaceful settlement of the conflict in the North African country.