Turkey delivers military equipment to forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed gov’t

A coalition of armed forces allied with Libya’s United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has said it received a shipment of arms from Turkey on Saturday, according to a news report by Reuters on Sunday.

The GNA received the military hardware, including military vehicles, as it tries to prevent General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) from seizing control of Libya’s capital Tripoli.

Libya is split between the GNA, the country’s internationally recognized government led by Fayez al Sarraj and Haftar’s Tobruk-based LNA government.

Haftar, the de facto ruler of eastern Libya, has been steadily advancing on Tripoli.

The pro-GNA coalition announced the delivery of the military equipment on one of its Facebook pages without giving details about its origin, Reuters reported.

“The GNA is fostering its forces defending Tripoli with armored vehicles, ammunition and quality weapons,” the statement said.

The coalition also posted on its Facebook pages some pictures and videos, which showed dozens of Turkish-made BMC Kirpi armored vehicles in Tripoli’s port.

Reuters said in the report that both the GNA and the Turkish Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.

A Tripoli government spokesman said earlier this month that his administration has been holding meetings with its ally Turkey to obtain “anything that is needed to stop the assault.”

The talks included a possible supply of military and civilian help to the GNA.

Haftar’s assault in his bid to take control Tripoli was launched in early April.

The latest data received from the UN indicates that 75,000 people have fled their homes and 126 civilians have been killed so far.

Since the fall of the former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been in chaos for eight years.

The country has been split between rival governments and military factions based in the Eastern and the Western part of the country since 2014.

While Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arap Emirates have been supporting Haftar’s LNA, Turkey and Qatar have sided with the UN-backed GNA.

Since 2014, the UAE and Egypt have provided the LNA with military equipment such as aircraft and helicopters, helping General Haftar to gain the upper hand in the conflict, according to previous UN reports.

The UN Panel of Experts’ report of September 2018 says that Turkey is one of the countries involved in delivering arms to rival factions in Libya, violating the UN Security Council weapons embargo placed on Libya at the start of the civil war in 2011.

The Turkish government previously denied claims of illicit flow of military equipment to Islamist forces in Libya following the seizure of two containers holding a large cache of weapons and ammunition on December 18, 2018.

Weapons reaching the region, mostly from the Mediterranean, often find their way to extremist groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS).

Both of the armed organizations are active between the borders of Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria.

Turkey denies allegation of Turkish spies in Libya

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