Turkey, Qatar accused of delivering weapons to Libyan militants

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Sat, 17 Jun 2017 - 09:48 GMT

Fajr Libya fighters fire an artillery cannon at ISIS militants near Sirte, Libya March 19, 2015. Photo: REUTERS.

Fajr Libya fighters fire an artillery cannon at ISIS militants near Sirte, Libya March 19, 2015. Photo: REUTERS.

CAIRO – 17 June 2017: Since the onset of the Libyan civil war in 2014, Turkish and Qatari airlines have been accused of providing Libyan militant groups with various types of weapons and ammunition, allowing them to wage a fierce war against Libyan army and eventually leading to the fall of the capital.

For over three years, the country has plunged into chaos, extending from Tripoli to Benghazi, witnessing harsh and devastating battles with terrorist groups.

According to African Gate News, Qatar is responsible for securing funds for militant acts, while Turkey has provided logistical services for the terrorist groups, which carried out several attacks against Libyan state institutions.

In February 2015, Abdullah al-Thani, head of the Tobruk-based government in eastern Libya, accused Turkey of sending weapons to militias and Islamist group members who seized the Libyan capital of Tripoli in 2014.

"Turkey was not honest with us," he told Egyptian television, according to African Gate News. "It exports weapons to the Libyans to kill each other."

Reports about Turkey's growing role in the Libyan conflict have begun to emerge since January 2013, when Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported that Greek authorities had found Turkish weapons on a ship heading to Libya, after it stopped in Greece due to bad weather.

In December 2013, Egyptian media reported that the Egyptian Customs Authority, within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had monitored four containers full of arms coming from Turkey and believed to be heading to the Libyan militias.

In August 2014, the leader of the Operation Dignity in eastern Libya, Khalifa Haftar, ordered his forces to shell a ship loaded with weapons coming from Turkey and heading to the Libyan port of Derna.

Four months later, the Turkish media reported that Greek authorities had found 20,000 Kalashnikovs (AK-47) aboard a ship coming from the Ukraine to Libya.

A report by the Lebanese media showed that Libyan authorities seized a Korean ship on its way to the besieged coastal city of Misrata in December 2014. The ship was loaded with containers of weapons and ammunition that were allegedly sent from Turkey to Islamist militants in Libya.

In January 2015, a Libyan army official revealed that both Turkey and Qatar were supplying the “Dawn of Libya” militant group with arms through Sudan, in violation of the UN arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011.

Meanwhile, Turkey has also been accused of hosting Libyan jihadists. In January 2017, Ansar al-Shariah - a Libyan Islamist militia - confirmed the death of its leader Mohammed al-Zahawi at a Turkish hospital where he was receiving treatment for "an injury sustained in the battles of Benghazi." Then, Turkey sent his body to be buried in Misrata.

According to reports and letters from WikiLeaks, Turkey currently hosts two leading Libyan militants; Abdelhakim Belhadj and Khaled al-Sharif both have large financial and real estate investments in Turkey. These funds are believed to have been looted from Libyan state funds following the fall of Tripoli in August 2011.

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