Turkey endures multiple hits in 1 week by Greece, Libya

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Sat, 15 Aug 2020 - 11:38 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Libyan transport minister of GNA Milad Matouq walks as he inspects damages at Tripoli's Mitiga airport after it was hit by shelling in Tripoli, Libya May 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Libyan transport minister of GNA Milad Matouq walks as he inspects damages at Tripoli's Mitiga airport after it was hit by shelling in Tripoli, Libya May 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny/File Photo

CAIRO – 15 August 2020: Turkey received earlier this week a direct hit in the Aegean Sea, and two indirect ones in Libya as its proxies were targeted by the Libyan Armed Forces.

 

A Greek source told Reuters Friday that a "mini-collision" occurred Wednesday between a Greek frigate named the Limnos and a Turkish one called the Kemal Reis in the Aegean Sea as the bow of the former slightly hit the rear of the latter.

 

The Turkish frigate was one of many escorting a survey vessel dubbed Oruc Reis that was mapping out "sea territory for possible oil and gas drilling in an area" located between Crete – a Greek island – and Cyprus," Reuters reported.

 

A Libyan military source told Al Arabiya Wednesday that the Libyan Air Force struck a convoy of militants and mercenaries affiliated to the militias of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is an interim non-elected government that is recognized by the United Nations. The convoy was attempting to advance towards Sirte – located in central Libya - in order to carry out attacks against the concentrations of the Libyan National Army (LNA).

 

The convoy included dozens of armed vehicles, and it was targeted after it had been detected in Bi Valley western Sirte while heading to southern the city. A number of those vehicles were destroyed while casualties and injuries occurred among the militias.

 

The hit took place one day after the LNA had fired at a boat carrying Syrian mercenaries affiliated to Turkey and the GNA as they trespassed into the maritime exclusion zone off the coasts of Ra's Lanov city in central Libya.  

 

The source added that Turkey transports into Libya's Misrata militants who received training in camps in Somalia using funds from Qatar.

 

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Noland met with Turkish officials in Ankara to discuss measures that can be taken for different parties to fully withdraw foreign forces and mercenaries. The goal is achieving a ceasefire, resuming political dialogue, allowing the Libyan National Oil Corporation to resume work, and promoting economic transparency and reforms.  

 

Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh met with Norland in Cairo on Monday to confer over the steps already taken to achieve the Cairo Declaration aimed at ending the civil war in Libya.

 

The Cairo Declaration builds upon Berlin Conference outcomes urging that all foreign powers abstain from intervening in Libya. A ceasefire and an embargo have been mandated by several UN Security Council resolutions on Libya.

 

There was congruence among Saleh and Norland to maintain the ceasefire that began in June after the Libyan National Army (LNA) lost its last stronghold western Libya, Tarhouna, to the militias of the Government of National Accord (GNA). Both also shared the same views on continuing the disarmament of Sirte and Al Jufrah cities until the political dialogue resumes.

 

The U.S. ambassador reiterated that no military solution shall be sought in Libya, and that the ceasefire is a must. The Libyan Speaker is on a visit to Egypt to discuss solutions to his country's crisis.

 

On June 20, Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-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.

 

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 July 16, President 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 20, the Egyptian House of Representatives approved sending troops beyond Egyptian borders on the western strategic direction.

 

 

 

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. The Libyan army installed air defense systems in Sirte, while Al Jufrah already has a main airbase.

 

In December 2019, Turkey signed with the GNA two MoUs on defense and gas drilling in the Mediterranean.

 

Spokesperson of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Ahmed al-Mesmary had stated early in July that 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 2,500 – 3,000 officers and military 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 LNA announced downing on July 23 a Turkish reconnaissance plane west of the Libyan city of Sirte, which is currently controlled by LNA forces.

 

On July 22, the LNA warned Turkey against approaching the Libyan coasts, threatening to target any hostile naval vessels in the Libyan waters.

 

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.

 

However, Commander of Mobilization at the LNA Khaled al-Mahgoub stated on July 20 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."  

 

The LNA's commander of mobilization unveiled on July 25 that Syrian mercenaries transported by Turkey are being turned into police forces by the Ministry of Interior affiliated to the GNA.

 

The GNA was formed as per the 2014 Skhirat Agreement expired in 2017, and that failed to achieve its purpose, which is ending the civil war and unifying the affiliation of the country's institutions.  There is another interim government that is based in Tobruk eastern Libya and that was formed by the elected Libyan House of Representatives convening in the same city instead of Benghazi given the circumstances. Benghazi currently constitutes the headquarters of the LNA.

 

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