United Nations sanctions monitors are investigating possible use of an armed drone by eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces or a supporting “third party” in an attack on troops affiliated with Libya’s internationally-recognised government, a confidential report to the UN Security Council states.
The report, seen by Reuters, found a Blue Arrow air-to-surface missile (BA-7) was likely used in the attack near Tripoli on April 20. The weapon is designed to be fired by a Wing Loong drone.
The UN monitors said video showed other air attacks on Tripoli were “almost certainly from air-to-surface missiles.”
“The panel is investigating probable use of Wing Loong UAV variants by the LNA or by a third party in support of the LNA,” the sanctions monitors wrote in the brief May 2 report. “Its introduction to Libya is a violation of the arms embargo by an as yet unconfirmed party.”
The latest flare-up of violence in Libya – gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 – began a month ago, when eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar’s LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli.
Haftar forces predicted victory within days, but the forces of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s government bogged them down with help of armed groups from western Libyan factions.
More than 440 people died and tens of thousands of civilians displaced, according to the United Nations.
The UN report notes the BA-7 missile is only used in China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kazakhstan adding some countries operating Wing Loong drones could also be using the missiles. They were in use by China, the UAE, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Uzbekistan.
The UAE and Egypt back Haftar and see his forces as a bulwark against Islamists in north Africa. The UAE and Egyptian missions to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
The BA-7 missile and Wing Loong drones are produced by China, the report notes it is “almost certain” the weapon was not directly supplied by the “manufacturer or by the member state to any parties in Libya.”
“It is highly likely present due to post-delivery diversion by the original purchaser or subsequent owner,” it found.