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Turkey Plans to Deploy Jets in Libya’s Watiya Air Base

Turkey Plans to Deploy Jets in Libya’s Watiya Air Base

Thursday, 28 May, 2020 - 05:30
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, February 29, 2020. Turkish Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS
Ankara - Saeed Abdulrazek

Ankara is setting the stage for deploying F-16 warplanes and drones at the Watiya air base, southwest of the Libyan capital Tripoli, which was captured earlier this month by militias fighting for the Government of National Accord (GNA), Turkish sources said.

The sources expected Russia, which backs the Libyan National Army (LNA) to confront Turkey that supports the GNA of Fayez al-Sarraj.

The allies of LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar are trying “to escalate the (Libyan) civil war by using new techniques,” the same sources told Turkish newspaper Habertürk.

They have been sending arms and warplanes in support of Haftar to cause further division in the country, they said.

Licenses for oil exploration granted by Haftar to Russia in eastern Libya are a sign that Moscow intends to remain in the region, the sources added.

Although Turkey and Russia will not enter into a direct confrontation, Russian fighter jets will try to diminish the military advance made by the GNA through Ankara’s support, Habertürk quoted the sources as saying.

It’s likely that non-Russian pilots will fly the warplanes sent by Russia to Libya, they added.

On Tuesday, the US military command for Africa (Africom) accused Moscow of deploying several MiG-29 Fulcrum jets and Su-35 Flankers in support of Haftar.

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