Italy’s itamilradar website revealed that Turkey was continuing its military cargo plane flights to western Libya, amid reports that Ankara may send the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord the Russian S-400 air defense system.
Itamilradar reported that a Turkish Lockheed C-130E (63-13188) and an Airbuys A400M (16-0055) departed Istanbul, carrying weapons and ammunition, and landed in Tripoli’s Mitiga airport on Wednesday.
Their arrival coincided with Libyan activists’ posting on social media of military vehicles traveling towards western Tripoli, speculating that they were transporting air defense systems to the al-Watiya airbase, which was attacked by unknown jets last week.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Sabah newspaper, which is close to the Ankara government, reported that the military may deploy the Russian S-400 system inside Libya. Turkey had purchased the system from Moscow in July 2019.
Sabah reported, however, that Turkey would rather avoid such a provocative move and instead prefers to maintain relations with Russia and the United States. It would not risk jeopardizing ties with one country at the expense of the other.
It said that one of the best options, which the three parties could agree on, was deploying the system in the North African country according to the security and military memorandum of understanding signed between Ankara and the GNA in November 2019.
Experts said that Russia would reject such a proposal because it opposes the re-export of its weapons. Moscow is also a backer of the Libyan National Army, the GNA’s main rival. The US, in turn, will also reject the move because it would be ceding influence to Russia in the region.