Libya’s UN-recognised government on Sunday condemned overnight air raids against a recently recaptured airbase in the west of the country saying the attack was carried out by a “foreign air force”.
“The raids last night against Al-Watiya base were carried out by a … foreign air force in support of the war criminal [Haftar] in a miserable and desperate attempt to achieve a morale boosting victory,” GNA Deputy Defence Minister Salah al-Namrush said in a statement.
An official from the Turkish Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the attack against their positions “has damaged some systems at the air base”, without specifying further details.
However, a military source quoted in Turkish media has acknowledged that they received “9 precision air strikes against Turkish air defence systems”, which had recently been installed at Al-Watiya, in one of the first phases of the development of the military base.
The bombings “were successful”, as they left “3 radars completely destroyed”. As for personal injury, sources consulted by Al-Arabiya reported that “Turkish intelligence leaders were injured” and that “they were flown to hospitals in Tripoli and other facilities in Turkey”.
For its part, the local newspaper Libya Akhbar has reported the deaths of six Turkish officers, including a commander, although these reports have yet to be confirmed.
Rafale aircraft involved
The Turkish officer who acknowledged the damage to the facilities has also blamed the LNA for the offensive, something that has neither been confirmed nor denied by Haftar’s forces, beyond the information that the Nova agency has been given and that has yet to be verified.
What does seem to be clearer is that French-made Rafale fighter jet of Unknown Foreign Airforce has been involved in the attack, which limits the identity of the attacking power to France and Egypt, the two countries within the range of the base that possess this type of aircraft.
Barely 12 hours after the attack was reported, local sources have informed Al-Arabiya that a large number of Turkish troops who were deployed to Al-Watiya have begun to leave the facility. But in view of this “defeat”, the Turkish Communications Directorate has published on its Twitter account an infographic highlighting the importance of Al-Jufra, where what is considered the largest air base in Libya, currently in the hands of the LNA and protected by two of the latter’s allies, France and Russia, is located. “Why is the air base of Jufra important,” is the title of the tweet
. “It seems that the Turkish government is targeting Jufra after the attack on its assets in Al-Watiya,” says analyst Samer Al-Atrush on the social network. This message from the Turkish leadership could give a glimpse of the new strategic movement that Turkey would be preparing in the Libyan conflict: the conquest of Al-Jufra, although at the moment it does not seem to have many options due to the reinforcement of the military presence of the LNA’s partners.
For its part, the GNA, an invaluable ally of Ankara, has assured through its Deputy Defence Minister, Salah Al-Namroush, that they will “respond” to the offensive and that this will take place “at the right time and place”, according to the Turkish news agency Anadolu.