Although struck, Turkey still uses Al Watiyah for military reinforcements in Libya


Tue, 21 Jul 2020 - 10:32 GMT

A rocket launcher vehicle is seen after fighters loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) took control of Watiya airbase, southwest of Tripoli, Libya May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Hazem Ahmed

A rocket launcher vehicle is seen after fighters loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) took control of Watiya airbase, southwest of Tripoli, Libya May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Hazem Ahmed

CAIRO – 21 July 2020: Commander of Mobilization at the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khaled al-Mahgoub revealed Monday that Turkey still uses Oqba bin Nafea airbase in Al Watiyah western the country to bring in military reinforcements less than a month from losing air defense and electronic warfare systems in strikes by "unknown flights."  


Mahgoub added that Turkey has begun to lower its hostile tone in statements on Libya after its Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had said one day before the hit that Turkish presence would continue forever in Libya. The commander attributes such behavior to the "firm stances Egypt has recently taken."


"The security of Libya and Egypt is intertwined. The Libyan army is being revived, and does not possess capabilities similar to those of Turkey. Hence, it definitely needs Egypt's support on the air, naval, and land levels," Mahgoub showcased.


The commander said that the Libyan people was positive the Egyptian House of Representatives would approve military intervention in Libya.


On July 20, the Egyptian House of Representatives approved sending troops beyond Egyptian borders on the western strategic direction.


On July 16, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with Tribe leaders belonging to eastern, central, and western Libya in Cairo as they demanded Egypt's military support to repel Turkish aggression. "We will enter Libya upon the request of the Libyan people, and will leave it in compliance with the order of the Libyan people," the president stated.


On July 13, the Libyan House of Representatives issued a statement allowing the Egyptian Armed Forces to intervene whenever it perceives a threat to the security of Egypt and Libya describing Turkey as "the invading occupier."


On June 20, President Sisi declared Sirte and Al Jufrah in central Libya a red line that if crossed, Egypt's "direct intervention" becomes internationally legitimate.


That is because it is aligned with the UN Security Council resolutions on Libya and Berlin Conference imposing an arm embargo on Libyan factions, banning foreign intervention in the North African State, and advocating for a political solutions. Furthermore, Egypt's intervention is requested by the elected Libyan House of Representatives and Libyan tribes.


In December 2019, Turkey signed with the Government of National Accord (GNA) – which is an interim non-elected government that is recognized by the United Nations – two MoUs on defense and gas drilling in the Mediterranean.


As stated by LNA Spokesperson Ahmed al-Mesmary, Turkey has transported into Libya 25,000 mercenaries. Those include 17,000 Syrian militants, 2,500 Tunisians who fought in the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) in Idlib and Aleppo, and other nationalities including the Sudanese.  


Turkey has also sent 1,500 officers and experts to co-command the operations rooms of the GNA militias and to pilot drones from mainly Tripoli's Mitiga Airbase. The LNA downed around 70 Turkish drones as they were targeting its concentrations.


The Libyan Armed Forces restored Sirte in January, and was advancing in the outskirts of Misrata and Tripoli. However, early in June, it lost Al Watiyah and Tarhouna, which was its last stronghold western the country, retreating into Sirte and Al Jufrah.  


Libyan tribes announced the closure of oil ports and fields in January as the revenues were used by the GNA to pay militants. Early in July, the tribes declared that oil facilities would resume operations. However, the LNA announced on July 11 that such facilities would remain closed until the demands of the Libyan people on dismantling militias are fulfilled. The Libyan National Oil Corporation (NCO) announced that the value of revenues lost until present is $6.5 billion.


On July 5, several "unknown aircraft" launched nine strikes against Oqba Bin Nafea Airbase located in Al Watiyah controlled by the GNA and Turkey. The outcome was the destruction of Hawk air defense systems, and a Koral electronic warfare system as well as the killing of a Turkish commander, and six officers as the operations room they were in was hit.


On the same day, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visited his forces in Tripoli and Misrata. While checking on a warship anchored near the coasts of Tripoli and Mitiga Military Hospital, he asserted that his country's forces "will remain forever in Libya, althoughtheir ancestors left in the past," as reported by Sky News Arabia.


Akar referred to the Ottoman colonization of the Arab world saying that Turkey "has had a joint history with the region for 500 years," adding that his country aims at the protection of the non-recognized state, dubbed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.



On July 6, the communication office of the Turkish presidency declared Al Jufrah Airbase a military target of the country's forces stationed in Libya pointing out that Sirte is a key city given it is the portal to Libyan oil resources.


On July 7, Libyan military sources told Youm7 that the LNA is reinforcing its defenses in Sirte and Al Jufrah to repel any attempts by the GNA or "mercenaries" to advance. The LNA installed advanced air defense systems in both towns as military reinforcements have reached militias eastern Misrata within a plan to move towards Sirte.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Resources (SOHR) reported that Turkey is still training Syrian militants on its lands and transferring them to Libya, despite the return of 3,200 to Syria.

The observatory revealed that around 300 Syrian mercenaries are aged between 14 and 18 in Libya, and that around 432 Syrian militants were killed in confrontations with the LNA, including 30 minors and leaders.

SOHR also reported that 400 Syrian mercenaries left Libya, and illegally entered European countries through Italy.



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