Libyan rebels have received an Ilyushin Il-76TD transport aircraft seized by authorities in the United Arab Emirates. Rebels say it will be used to transport humanitarian aid.
AFP reports that the aircraft arrived in Benghazi on Wednesday, citing rebel Colonel Abdel Nasser Bousnina.
“This aircraft was owned by the Libyan government, more precisely by the International Airlines Group, controlled by a public investment fund” of the regime of Moamer Kadhafi, Bousnina said.
It was seized by authorities in Dubai, and handed over to representatives of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC).
“This equipment is now in the air force of the rebellion. This is the first cargo plane we have, and will be used to transport humanitarian aid from abroad to Libya,” said the officer, welcoming this “success”.
Last week, the rebels seized an oil tanker owned by the regime, together with 37,000 tonnes of fuel.
The Cartagena was captured in the Mediterranean with NATO help while en route from Malta to Libya, rebel officials said. It is now docked in the port of Benghazi.
More support is being pledged to assist the rebel’s opposing Gaddafi’s regime and more countries are expected to free up frozen assets.
A senior British official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that, “There are likely to be significant announcements next week in the UN on assets being unfrozen by other countries”. Last month, London unfroze 91 million pounds of assets of the Arabian Gulf Oil Company held by Britain.
The official said steps taken by the international community meant Gaddafi and his supporters were nearing a “tipping point” when they would be forced from power.
Libyan rebels have struggled to make inroads against Gaddafi’s forces despite nearly five months of NATO bombing of government targets.