Turkish Military Planes Land in West Libya

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On Wednesday, the global air traffic website, Flightradar24 tracked a Turkish military Airbus A400M arriving at Libya’s Al-Rutba Air Base.

Meanwhile, a C130 aircraft also landed at the Al-Wattiyah Air Base from a Turkish military base, according to data published by the website.

Turkey continues to send military aircraft to Libya, with more than ten planes landing at the Uqba bin Nafi Airbase in the Watiya region, western Libya.

The planes are believed to be transporting military supplies, despite the fact that the UN-brokered ceasefire agreement stipulates that all military cooperation with foreign nations must be halted.

Ankara signed a memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation in November 2019 with Libya’s former Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj.

In June, the Turkish Parliament approved a motion to extend the mission of the Turkish troops in Libya, for additional 18 months.

The memorandum signed by Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that “the efforts initiated by Libya after the events of February 2011, to build democratic institutions, were in vain due to armed conflicts that led to the emergence of a fragmented administrative structure in the country.”

In May, Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, stated that the Turkish soldiers and Syrian mercenaries in Libya would remain present to preserve Ankara’s interests.

The UN estimates there are over 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, helping both sides of the conflict.

In April 2019, the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli. The GNA requested help from Turkey to avert an LNA takeover. Ankara soon began to airlift thousands of Syrian mercenaries, and an array of weapons to support the GNA.

The ceasefire agreement also demands the withdrawal of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from the country. A number of Libyan politicians have called for the closure of airspace to Turkish aviation.

Notably, a Professor of political science at Omar Al-Mukhtar Al-Libi University, Yusef Al-Farsi said that the Turkish air bridge to western Libya was impeding international efforts to end the Libyan crisis peacefully.

Recently, the Turkish Constitutional Court rejected the appeals of six journalists in two separate cases, concerning their imprisonment over their reporting on Libya.