The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced that its fighter jets brought down a Turkish drone early Thursday after raiding its forces in the capital, Tripoli.
It also affirmed destroying the drone while landing in the runway, from which it departed at Mitiga airbase, without causing casualties or affecting the movement of air navigation.
“A Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) attacked our forces, our air force’s warplanes tracked it and targeted it while it was landing on the runway of Mitiga airbase,” the LNA’s media office said in an official statement.
LNA Commander of the western operations Major General Abdul Salam al-Hassi told Asharq Al-Awsat that downing the second Turkish drone since the beginning of the battle to liberate Tripoli means that “Turkey is fighting the national army by sending aircraft and armored vehicles to the illegitimate government.”
“This also shows the whole world Turkey’s complicity and support for the armed and terrorist militias,” added Hassi, who has been leading LNA forces on the outskirts of Tripoli.
Commander of the LNA Air Force's Operations Room Major General Mohamed al-Manfour told local media on Wednesday that 30 Turkish military experts are working for militias allied with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
However, the Volcano of Rage Operation, led by forces loyal to GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj, said that the LNA has bombed Mitiga airport during the opening of an air bridge between Tripoli and Ghat city, southwest of the country, to transfer aid to citizens who have been hit by floods.
It said airstrikes could delay the preparation and shipment of aid by air, in addition to threatening the safety of civil aviation and endangering the lives of civilians in the capital.
Despite that, air traffic at Mitiga airport was not affected.
It announced in a brief statement on its official Facebook page, that the airport’s runway was bombed by a warplane, yet air traffic control announced later that the bombing was far from the runway and civilian flights were not affected.
Mitiga International Airport, which was established inside Tripoli airbase, is the only airport in Libya's west and the capital.
It has been subjected to airstrikes due to armed clashes or security tensions, which have caused frequent disruption of air traffic.