Aljazeera TV Channel has reported a high ranking government official at the Presidential Council as saying that a French military unit has set up a control room for drones at Sidra oil terminal in northern Libya amid France's rejection that it has provided military support for Khalifa Haftar's forces.
The official told Aljazeera that the French military unit is controlling drones that are targeting the Air College in Misrata and other Presidential Council's government positions in southern and eastern the city as well as in central Libya.
Aljazeera added that the French military unit is staying with a ring of heavy security presence at the residential area at Ras Lanuf oil terminal.
"Other sources said there is another French military unit at a firm's headquarters in Houn town in Al-Jufra in central Libya. It is operating the fighting of Haftar's forces in southern Tripoli." The report adds.
In the meantime, sources from Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) Operation said a French warship in northern Sirte waters disrupted the radio waves of the Libyan air defense in Misrata, paving the way for a warplane for Haftar's forces to air-attack Misrata.
The sources added that the French warship sent waves disrupting the Libyan Air Force's drones, thus limiting its viability in recent days.
France has rejected any claims that it is supporting Haftar in his war against Tripoli, starting from its troops who were detained on the border with Tunisia, then the finding of Javelin missiles in Gharyan when Haftar's forces pulled out in defeat and now the drones' control room.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday expressed American concerns over the prolonged conflict in Libya in a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart, and they agreed on the need for a political solution, the State Department said.
Pompeo also discussed with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry cooperation to tackle the Islamic State and al-Qaida militant groups, the department said in a statement.
"The Secretary and the Foreign Minister shared concern over prolonged violence and instability in Libya, and agreed on the need to achieve a political solution to the conflict," it said.
Egypt's foreign ministry said the two also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as crises in Syria and Yemen. On the Palestinian crisis, Shoukry "stressed the need to reach a comprehensive solution."
Egypt, along with the United Arab Emirates, is a supporter of Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, whose Libya National Army (LNA) has been trying to take Tripoli from forces allied with the internationally recognized government.
Turkey recently shipped arms to Tripoli to stop Haftar's assault, according to diplomats.
The United Nations envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, last month called for a truce in the North African country and warned that an influx of weapons from foreign supporters, in violation of an arms embargo, was fueling the conflict.
Egypt hailed the humanitarian truce declared by Libyan parties on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, stressing that it is a positive step towards building confidence between Libyan parties, a Tuesday statement by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Hafez said.
Hafez's statement also reported that Egypt confirmed that putting an end to foreign interference, stopping support for armed militias and extremists, and eliminating terrorism and extremism are the only way to end chaos and restore security and stability in Libya.
The statement also stressed that it is important that Libyan parties must reject foreign interference in Libya’s affairs and document violations to UN resolutions by countries that facilitate the smuggling of arms and terrorist fighters to Libya before the international community.
According to the statement, Egypt further calls upon the UNSMIL to cooperate more with the elected representatives of the Libyan people to develop the road map needed to get out of the current crisis and implement all the elements of the initiative approved by the Security Council in October 2017.
In the same context, Egypt condemned the recent terrorist bombing in Benghazi, expressing condolences to the victims’ families.
Italian foreign ministry undersecretary Manlio Di Stefano told The National that while France and Italy cooperated as partners on Libyan issues, in practice, things were often “not going in the right direction”. Of particular concern was the discovery of French weapons in camps abandoned by Libyan National Army (LNA) forces, the undersecretary from Italy’s 5 Star Movement said.
Mr Di Stefano remained concerned that France was not coordinating its efforts in Libya. “We have discovered French movements in the country that were not aligned with the general agenda and the general strategy,” he said, referring to the reports of military deployments in Libya.
The government in Tripoli has claimed French operatives have supported the LNA.
Mr Di Stefano called on the international community to continue pushing for a ceasefire in Libya and warned that further chaos would be unleashed if a sustainable solution to the violence was not reached. “We are really working in a crystal-clear way to avoid this and reach the ceasefire,” he said.
In response to Mr Di Stefano's remarks a French diplomatic source stated that France had continued to work with its European allies in Libya. "As agreed, regarding the situation in Libya, France works closely with its partners, particularly European".
A southern Yemeni separatist leader, Hani ibn Breik, has declared his movement's support for LNA commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar's assault on the Libyan capital.
Hani, the Vice President of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) which seized Aden on Saturday following clashes with forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government, claimed the separatists were ready to share their "expertise & experience" with the LNA. He also stated that the STC & LNA share a common enemy in "terrorist militias" backed by Qatar & Turkey. The United Arab Emirates, backers of the STC in the Yemen conflict, have also been listed amongst the backers of General Haftar & the LNA in Libya, with Qatar & Turkey counted publicly as supporters of the GNA.
With the current situation in Yemen it seems highly unlikely that the STC by itself would be capable of providing any significant support to the LNA; the more relevant issue is how UAE support for the separatists has caused an outcry from Saudi Arabia, allies of both the UAE & Haftar, and what this will mean going forward for all involved.
The governments of France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America welcome the announcement of a truce in Libya on the occasion of Eid el-Adha in response to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General with the support of the Security Council (UNSC press statement on Libya of 11 August), and invite all parties to effectively cease hostilities across Libya. We stand ready to assist the UN Mission in monitoring the observance of the truce and address any attempt to break it.
As proposed by the SRSG and reaffirmed today by the Security Council, this truce should be accompanied by confidence-building measures between the parties that can pave the way for a sustainable cease-fire and a return to a constructive, inclusive dialogue.
The governments of France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America recall the obligation under international law for all UN Member States to abide by the arms embargo, in line with all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
We call on all parties to start working with no delay on a ceasefire agreement and resume efforts, under the auspices of the Special Representative of the United Nations, to build a lasting political solution, based the principles agreed upon in Paris, Palermo and Abu Dhabi.
The governments of France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America reaffirm their strong commitment to a quick and peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis. We reiterate that there can be no military option in Libya and we urge all parties to protect civilians, safeguard Libya’s oil resources and protect its infrastructure.
The governments of France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America condemn in the strongest terms the attack that targeted a UN convoy in Benghazi yesterday. The circumstances of this vicious act must be established with no delay and those who were behind must be identified and held accountable. We reiterate their full support to the essential work of the UN Mission in Libya.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Ukrainian plane had been hit at Misrata airport in Libya, a media report said Wednesday.
The ministry confirmed, referring to the information received from the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine, that a Ukrainian plane had been destroyed as a result of a missile attack on the airport on Monday, according to a report by Interfax-Ukraine News Agency.
"As a result of the attack, the plane's tail was destroyed, the operator of the crew was slightly injured, and the passport documents of the air navigator were destroyed. The entire crew of the plane was evacuated to a safe place," said the ministry.
The plane was reportedly performing a humanitarian cargo transportation flight for the needs of the Libyan Red Crescent Society and had all the necessary permits.
The ministry said consular response measures are underway, and that the return of the Ukrainian citizens home is being arranged.
Two Israeli-made Orbiter-3 tactical drones were shot down in Libya by troops allied with strongman Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
The two drones were shot down at the end of July. One was recovered by troops some 40 km. southwest of the Libyan capital of Tripoli in the small town of al-‘Aziziya, while the other was recovered in the Sidra district, home to the war-torn country’s largest oil depot.
While the United Nations Security Council has repeatedly renewed the arms embargo on Libya since 2011, according to reports the two drones were part of a three-unit donation by Turkey to the United Nation-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) which is fighting to prevent Tripoli from being taken by Haftar’s LNA.
Manufactured by the Israeli drone company Aeronautics, the tactical Orbiter 3 UAV is a compact, light-weight system for use by military and homeland security officials. It has an operating range of up to 150 km. and can stay up to seven hours in flight on intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.
It has both day and night vision channels and also carries a three-sensor electro-optical camera with significant tactical capabilities.
The fully autonomous, highly transportable system can be assembled within a few minutes, is launched using a catapult and lands with the help of a parachute and airbag.
The system is operated by customers all over the world, who sign an agreement not to sell the UAV to a third party.
The Government of National Accord (GNA) Foreign Minister, Mohammed Sayala has requested his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian to urgently explain how the US Javelin missiles sold to France ended up in the hands of warlord Khalifa Haftar in Gharyan.
Sayala’s demand was preceded by a request from Presidential Council (PC) member, Mohammad Amari Zayed to France to withdraw its troops from Libya immediately and halt its alleged support for Khalifa Haftar.
Zayed reiterated his rejection to any attempt to infringe Libya's sovereignty by any country. He said that the French statement on Javelin missiles is contradictory; on one hand, it claims that the aim of sending missiles was to protect a military unit tasked to fight terrorism, and on the other hand, it states that those weapons are unusable.
The PC member questioned if the weapons were sent to Libya to be disposed and destroyed here, saying that Libyans will not allow Haftar to turn Libya into a dump for French weapons, according to him.