On the 14th September we received reports from our on-the-ground sources that there were explosions heard at Misrata International Airport, Libya. Following this, we turned to AQINTEL to supply us with ‘before and after’ satellite images of the Misrata Airport to get a visual understanding of the battle that occurred at the airport, what kind of damage was caused and what kind of munitions were used that could aid us in understanding more about the magnitude and source of the attack.
The satellite images taken of Misrata International Airport from the morning of 14th September 2019 show commercial airliners parked around hangers and some smaller buildings at the airport. See image 1 below:
The satellite images taken of Misrata International Airport towards the end of the day on the 14th September 2019 show the damage caused by fighting, see image 2 below.
Analysis of Image 2:
Analysis of image 2 shows there was a sophisticated attack launched against the GNA at the Misrata International Airport attack on 14th September 2019. Our on-the-ground sources reporting hearing “Russian shouting” from forces around the airport during the attack. These two indicators lead us to suspect the Wagner Group or Russian Special Forces recent deployment of personnel to support General Haftar’s LNA were involved this battle. They were possibly working with the LNA or maybe alone. While both Wagner Group and General Haftar have not officially confirmed their work together, images and reports like these seem to be the first indicating factors to help us clarify these facts.
The GNA, which is Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord and currently has support from the US and the EU (except for France), has been petitioning the UN, throughout the month of September 2019, to pass a resolution to condemn those who “are targeting civilian facilities in Libya”. Mitiga and Misrata International Airports were specifically referenced in the GNA’s petition to the UN. The satellite images and our on-the-ground sources show that the GNA are the ones endangering civilians by placing its military assets next to civilian airliners. All the while petitioning the international community to protect the areas by attempting to classifying them as ‘civilian’.
The US has been reported to be waning its support for the GNA, who’s forces are facing numerous alleged crimes against humanity. Coupling this with the GNA mixing civilian and military activities at Misrata’s International Airport will no doubt further strain relations between the GNA and the US. On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that the US will show support for Haftar and the LNA. This leads us to believe the US is searching for a possible alternate leader to support in Libya.
While this long Libyan war is messy and many times it is hard to decipher facts, especially due to the dangers of being on-the-ground in Libya, our local sources and ability to gain insights from satellite imagery can help illuminate an otherwise opaque battle. This battle, that has the US and EU countries supporting the GNA and the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russians and French supporting the LNA is more about these countries vying for control over Libya’s rich natural resources, of which should ultimately be commercially beneficial only to the Libyan people and not to interested outsider parties.
Note: All satellite images are approved to use by any news publication as long as it is referenced to AQINTEL https://www.aqintel.net/ . Information that has been gleaned from our on-the-ground sources should be referenced to our organization’s twitter handle @LibyaNewsLive1 or our website: https://www.libyanewslive.com/
On Tuesday an order was allegedly issued to affect the transfer of 678 police officers and personnel from the Interim Government's Interior Ministry to LNA military forces. This comes a day after a statement by Haftar's spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari, who said their forces will continue with the war in Tripoli and won't accept negotiations or political solutions.
Observers believe that this decision by the LNA commander and the recent military reinforcement in eastern Libya, including traffic policemen in Ajdabiya drafted into service, is an attempt to make up for the human loss since the start of Tripoli offensive which started in April of this year.
On Saturday a spokesman for Khalifa Haftar's forces ruled out a UN call to return to the negotiating table, saying a military solution is the best way to resolve the conflict.
"The battle (for Tripoli) is in its final phases," LNA spokesman General Ahmed al-Mesmari told a press conference in the United Arab Emirates. "When the guns speak, diplomacy goes silent. The time of going back to dialogue is over," he said. "The military solution is the best solution to spread security and reimpose the law."
Days earlier, al-Mismari had dismissed the internationally-recognised prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, as powerless and negotiations as futile. “The man was unable to sign a single paper,” he said of Sarraj. “He would always give the excuse that he needed to hold consultations. We’ve exhausted all good offices.” Continuing on he said it wouldn’t be possible to overhaul key institutions without a Haftar victory.
“Now we need to reform people’s morals and correct sick minds and this needs a rifle and a prison,” he said of rivals in Tripoli. “But after a national unity government takes hold, and the state is set up, many matters will be brought up.”
The UN says neither side has a chance of winning and has been pushing for an international conference in September to cement a cease-fire followed by talks that would reform the country’s financial institutions, including the central bank.
Mismari’s comments reflect the difficulties the United Nations faces in bringing the sides to the table and ending a conflict that has drawn in regional and international powers vying to shape the future of the oil-rich country. Sarraj’s government has ruled out talks with Haftar.
The commander of the Sirte Protection Force (a GNA-affiliated militia), Al-Na'as Abdullah, declared a state of high alert after identifying a convoy of armed vehicles allegedly belonging to LNA forces coming from the east, in the area of Al-Rawagha, heading to an unknown destination.
Recently, the Sirte Protection force had continued to operate fixed and mobile patrols east and south of Sirte, attempting to demonstrate that the area extending from Abu Qrin to Sirte is under the control of the Central Military Region of the Government of National Accord.
LNA forces may be conducting a reconnaissance in force to demonstrate their ability to traverse the area unopposed, challenging GNA claims of control in the area outside of Sirte, or simply passing by on their way to support the offensive further west in Tripoli. This remains a developing story.