WATCH: Libyans parade captured Russian missile system in Tripoli
The Libyan Government of National Accord has paraded a captured Russian missile defence system through the streets of Tripoli while accusing Russia of supplying eight planes to Haftar
Libyans celebrated as a Russian missile defence system captured by forces loyal to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) was put on display in the streets of Tripoli on Thursday night.
The celebrations took place as the GNA accused Russia of providing rogue General Khalifa Haftar, whose self-styled “Libyan National Army” has recently retreated in the face of a GNA offensive, with eight new fighter planes.
The GNA’s representative to the United Nations, Taher el-Sonni, tweeted video of the “Pantsir” missile system, captured from Haftar’s forces, parading through the streets of the Libyan capital. The Pantsir system was found at the Al-Watiya airbase, a major operations hub for Haftar’s forces which fell to GNA forces on Monday.
On Wednesday GNA military spokesman Mohammed Qununu said that four Russian Pantsir missile systems had been destroyed by GNA forces in less than 24 hours. On Thursday GNA forces also captured the town of Al-Asabaa, 50 kilometres south of Tripoli, from Haftar.
The GNA has also accused Russia of transferring eight Soviet-era aircraft to Haftar. Both the GNA and Haftar’s “Libyan National Army” say that six MiG-29 fighters and two Su-24 jets arrived at the Haftar-held Al-Jufra airbase in central Libya. Satellite photos showed one MiG-29 at the base but Russia did not confirm the transfer.
The “Libyan National Army’s” air commander, Saqr al-Jaroushi, threatened on Thursday to wage “the largest aerial campaign in Libyan history” against the GNA and Turkey, whose military support to the GNA has been a vital factor in its recent advances.
The GNA for its part said on Thursday that it would continue to advance on towns and cities held by Haftar. Qanunu called on civilians in the towns of Tarhouna, Mezda, Al-Washka and Sirte to “stay away from positions where Haftar’s terrorist militias are present”, as these would be targeted.
In April 2019, Haftar, who has received backing from Russia, Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, launched an assault to capture Tripoli from the GNA, killing hundreds of people and displacing 200,000 more, but this offensive later stalled and his forces have suffered severe setbacks as Turkey has intervened on the side of the GNA.