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The New Arab

UAE supplying Haftar with Israeli air defence system to counter Turkish drones in Libya

Forces opposed to Haftar with armed vehicles seized from the LNA in 2019 [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 April, 2020

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The UAE has provided Haftar with advanced air defence systems from Israel in an attempt to salvage the warlord's Tripoli offensive which has been hampered by drone attacks.
The United Arab Emirates is supplying eastern Libya's warlord General Khalifa Haftar with a sophisticated Israeli air defence system in order to counter the Turkish drones supplied to its rival, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), sources have exclusively told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service.

The UAE, the biggest backer of Haftar's confederation of militias and foreign mercenaries known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), is attempting to salvage the force's almost year-long offensive to take the capital, which has been significantly hampered by the GNA's successful drone campaign.

Earlier this month, GNA drone strikes targeting the LNA's Al-Watiya air base near Sirte destroyed an ammunitions depot, a fighter jet and killed several troops, with some reports saying that as many as 12 senior commanders died in the attack.

Read also: Comment: Libya has been flooded with mercenaries and private military companies

Sources said that the UAE reached a deal with Israel, with which it is increasing cooperating despite having no formal relations, to provide Haftar with an advanced air defence system produced by an Israeli manufacturer.

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The device was reportedly first transported to Egypt and is set to travel on to eastern Libya after training officers from Haftar's militia in its operation.

The sources added that tensions have been arising between Egypt and the UAE over military cooperation in Libya, after Cairo refused to conduct air strikes on GNA targets, saying it was too expensive.

Egypt is currently gripped in an impending economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic and its previous financial support from the UAE ad Saudi Arabia has dried up over the oil price crash.

Earlier this year, Jordan's air force supplied Haftar's forces with six Chinese CH-4 drones, which are now in operation in eastern Libya with assistance from Russian technicians.

The UAE has sent weapons, ammunition and drones to support Haftar’s offensive on the capital, supplying some 3,000 tonnes of machinery in January 2020 alone.

Weapons have been able to reach Libya despite a UN arms embargo, which has been poorly enforced.

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Several reports of covert Israeli assistance to Haftar have emerged over recent years, including the training of pro-Haftar militias in "street warfare" by the Israeli military in 2019.

The UAE has also brokered deals with Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to provide Haftar's forces with military aid in the form of sniper rifles and night vision equipment.

Haftar and his allied forces are based primarily in eastern Libya and have been waging a campaign to take the capital Tripoli from the GNA since April this year.

The ensuing conflict has resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 people, injured close to 6,000 and forced 120,000 people from their homes, according to UN figures.

Evidence for Haftar's complicity in war crimes are mounting. Amnesty International have reported that the rogue general's forces have engaged in indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as residential areas and medical facilities. 

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