West Libyan forces claim downed drone


Forces aligned with Libya’s Tripoli-based government shot down a drone operated by their rivals, suggesting a strengthening of air defences with accelerated military support from Turkey.

The drone was shot down east of Misrata, a key source of military power for forces aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), according to social media pages.

Pictures were posted of the charred aircraft wreckage and a largely intact wing on a pick-up truck, identifying it as a drone supplied by the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE supports east Libya-based forces led by Khalifa Haftar, supplying Chinese-made Wing Loong drones that gave an aerial advantage over less powerful Turkish drones used by their rivals, according to UN experts, diplomats and analysts.

More Turkish drones have been destroyed or shot down than Chinese ones.

Turkey is sending reinforcements to the GNA, including air defence systems and military advisors, analysts said.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has been waging an offensive to take control of Tripoli since April, another escalation in a conflict between rival camps based in Tripoli and east Libya.

The LNA said the downed drone was Turkish, but a weapons specialist with wide experience confirmed the drone was a Wing Loong. UAE authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The UN mission to Libya said weapons were pouring into Libya despite a pledge by international powers to respect a routinely breached arms embargo.

In Benghazi hundreds attended a rally to celebrate capture of what the LNA said was a Turkish armoured vehicle.

In Tripoli, three children were killed and another seriously wounded after a shell hit a residential area in the Hadba al-Badri district, a Red Crescent spokesman said.

UN children’s agency UNICEF said the war in Tripoli closed more than 200 schools, depriving over 115 000 children of schooling.