Russia Just Lost One Of Fighter Jets Deployed In Libya?

Russia Just Lost One Of Fighter Jets Deployed In Libya?
Video

September 09, 2020

South Front

A video, allegedly showing a Russian-speaking pilot in Libya waiting for an evacuation helicopter after his aircraft had supposedly crashed, appeared online on September 7 causing a wave of speculation in mainstream media and among military enthusiasts.

The clip shows a white-and-orange parachute on the ground, in a desert-like environment, and the Russian-speaking person claims that his aircraft was shot down at around 70km and that he ejected from it at about 40km from the airfield. He claims that he is waiting for an evacuation group of helicopters while the enemy is searching for him. After a break the video resumed to show an approaching Mi-24 helicopter in colors close to those used by helicopters of the Libyan National Army (LNA).

The video does not show any wreckage, nor indications of the near crash site, nor clues about the type of aircraft nor the real date or location of the video. The Russian pro-government military blog ‘Fighter Bomber’, which originally released the video, also revealed no further details about it.

The video came following several reports by the US military claiming that Russia had deployed several MiG-29 and Su-24 warplanes to the LNA-operated al-Jufra Airfield. The US Africa Command then claimed that these warplanes were possibly operated by Russia-linked private military contractors.

At the same time, the color scheme of the filmed helicopter is close to that used by the LNA. In particular, an LNA Mi-8 helicopter, which recently crash landed west of Sirte and was captured by forces of the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) had a similar painting scheme.

As to the video itself and the actions of the alleged pilot on it, the situation looks pretty strange. First of all, if the jet was really shot down in combat conditions and the pilot ejected, the decision to film a video that may fall into the hands of the enemy is quite puzzling. The behavior of the pilot making such a decision raises questions about the real purpose of the move. In real combat conditions, the pilot would likely try to retreat from the crash site as much as possible taking the crash-position indicator with him to allow the rescue force to find him. Another factor is that despite the claims of the ‘pilot’, no smoke can really be seen in the video. Further, the pilot is not wearing a proper flight suit. On top of this, Russian sources say that the survival radio set, likely the P-855, which can be seen in the video, is of a different color than those used by the Russian Aerospace Forces.

These factors indicate that the video, regardless of the location, could be from some sort of combat search and rescue exercise. This would explain the strange behavior of the ‘pilot’ who was sitting near his parachute and waiting for somebody, like in peace time, instead of retreating from the alleged crash site. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that these details are likely to be ignored by mainstream media, which will probably soon be full of reports about how Turkish forces downed a Russian fighter aircraft in Libya. If the above mentioned fun clip was really recorded in Libya, by some Russian-linked private military contractors, their leadership is now apparently interested in improving the operational security of their forces.

Large demonstration held in support of Gaddafi family in northern Libya: video

Supporters of the Gaddafi family took to the streets of Bani Walid, Sirte, and Ghat to demonstrate in support of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s return to politics.

By News Desk -2020-08-25

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:35 P.M.) – Supporters of the Gaddafi family have once again gathered in Sirte, the birthplace of the former president, Muammar, to show their support for them amid ongoing turmoil between the two largest political blocs in Libya.

According to Ouais Hasairi, the Libyan National Army (LNA) clashed with members of the Gdadfa Tribe, which is the tribe of Muammar Gaddafi, over the arrest of 50 civilians in the city of Sirte.

The incident, according to Hasairi, took place in the coastal city of Sirte on August 24th, as the demonstrations in support of the Gaddafi family continue in this region of the country.

Supporters of the Gaddafi family can be seen waiving the green flag, which represented the Libyan Arab Republic under the former president Muammar Gaddafi.

Last week, three demonstrations were reported in Sirte and two other cities in north-central Libya, as dozens of people rallied in support of the Gaddafi family and the return of Saif Al-Islam to Libyan politics.

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Demonstrations held in support of Gaddafi family in 3 Libyan cities

By News Desk -2020-08-20

Supporters of the Gaddafi family took to the streets of Bani Walid, Sirte, and Ghat to demonstrate in support of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s return to politics.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:00 P.M.) – Dozens of people gathered inside three Libyan cities this week to demonstrate in support of Saif Al-Islam Al-Gaddafi, the son of the former president, Mu’ammar Al-Gaddafi.

According to Al-Wasat, the demonstrations were held in the cities of Sirte, Bani Walid, and Ghat, which are located in north-central Libya.

The participants reportedly held photos of the former Libyan President, along with his sons, Saif Al-Islam, Mu’tassem, and Khamis.

The protesters were reportedly calling for the return of Saif Al-Islam to Libyan politics, while announcing their support for his presidency.

The city of Sirte is the birthplace of Mu’ammar Gaddafi and was one of the main strongholds for the late president during the first phase of the Libyan Civil War.

Since Gaddafi’s death, the city has been controlled by the Government of National Accord, Libyan National Army, and Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh).

Sirte is currently under the control of the Libyan National Army and has been since they captured the city from the Government of National Accord in January 2020.

The Government of National Accord is now eyeing the recapture of the city, despite the Egyptian government’s announcement that Sirte is their “red line”.

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Alleged Russian S-300 system spotted near strategic Libyan city: photo

By News Desk -2020-08-06

S-300 PMU-2 long-range air defense system deployed by the Algerian army in southern Algeria.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:10 A.M.) – A Russian-made S-300 air defense system has been spotted near the strategic port-city of Sirte in north-central Libya.

According to conflict observers, a photo taken east of Sirte allegedly shows the presence of an S-300 air defense system, which is something that Libya did not previously possess.

However, while some claim that this is an S-300 system, the Russian publication, Avia.Pro, said that the photo does not necessarily confirm its presence, as it is only possible to confirm the ownership of the radar.

“At the moment, there is no complete confidence that we are talking about the S-300 complex, since it was only possible to confirm the ownership of the radar; however, given the fact that Russian military aircraft regularly fly to Libya, landing at air bases controlled by the Libyan National Army. Moreover, we are talking about Russian military specialists, analysts are inclined to believe that we are talking about these complexes,” the publication said.

The Libyan National Army has not commented on the claims of the S-300 system’s deployment to Sirte.

It should be noted that neighboring Egypt does possess an S-300 system and given their alliance with the Libyan National Army, the deployment of this weapon could very well be possible.

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RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

Source

 25.07.2020 

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Greece’s navy has declared a state of heightened alert and deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in response to a Turkish vessel conducting seismic surveys for energy exploration purposes close to a disputed maritime area.

On Tuesday the Greek foreign ministry issued a formal protest to Turkey following the announcement that a Turkish drilling ship would conduct explorations in the maritime area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the south eastern Aegean. The foreign ministry also released a statement:

We call on Turkey to immediately cease its illegal activities, which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the region.”

Following Turkey’s rejection of the protest, the Greek Navy has sent ships to patrol in the area.

“Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean,” a navy source told AFP, declining to give further details.

Athens has stated that Turkish surveys in sections of the Greek continental shelf constitute an escalation of the tension in the region where the two countries dispute the boundary of their respective maritime areas. LINK

Experts cited in media reports have interpreted Turkey’s conduct as designed to test Greece’s determination to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and believe that the Turkish leadership’s moves may also be linked to the Libyan conflict. According to this interpretation of the latest developments, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently seeks to “test” the reaction of his opponents. LINK

A report in Xinhua suggests that Greece’s response is to draw even closer to Egypt. Greece and Egypt have been holding negotiations over the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, however the boundaries of the area they are discussing overlaps with the area which was subject to a maritime agreement signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya late last year (the two parties also signed a military agreement pursuant to which Turkey has sent thousands of fighters and a large amount of weapons and supplies to the Government of National Accord).

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, during which they discussed regional issues, with a focus on the Libyan crisis.

According to the Xinhua report, Sisi expressed Egypt’s opposition to “illegitimate foreign intervention” in Libyan domestic affairs, citing that they would further exacerbate the security conditions in Libya in a way that affects the stability of the entire region, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

For his part, the Greek prime minister also voiced rejection of foreign interference in Libya, while highlighting the political course as a key solution for the Libyan issue.

He hailed Egypt’s “sincere efforts” that seek a peaceful settlement to the Libyan crisis, according to the statement.

Over the past few years, the Egyptian-Greek ties have been growing closer, with their growing enmity with Turkey also resulting in them developing a similar position on Libya. The talks between Sisi and Mitsotakis took place just a few days after the Egyptian parliament approved a possible troop deployment in Libya to defend Egypt’s western borders with the war-torn country. LINK

A perceptive analysis of the emerging Turkey-Libya (Tripoli) relations published last month remains just as salient to describe the situation today:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gambled big in Libya and won big – so far. This victory portends important changes in the politics of the Mediterranean, for Turkey has succeeded not only in demonstrating its determination to become the dominant player in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in showcasing its military prowess and wherewithal. The latter might precipitate a deeper conflict and crisis in the region, extending north toward Greece.

Erdogan threw his support behind the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had besieged the GNA’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar suffered a humiliating defeat as Turkish drones, troops, navy vessels and some 10,000 Syrian fighters transported by Ankara to Libya stopped him in his tracks and then forced him to abandon bases and territory. A last-minute call for a ceasefire by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was rejected by the victorious GNA, which has set its aims at capturing other towns, including the critical port city of Sirte.

Indirectly, this was also a defeat for the countries that had backed Haftar: Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The UAE had contributed military equipment and the Russians non-state mercenary forces.

Turkey’s Libya expedition has to be seen from two perspectives. First, the GNA concluded a deal with Ankara that delineated their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in such a way that it divides the Mediterranean Sea into two sections. Turkey’s purpose is to hinder efforts by Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Greece to export natural gas, either through a pipeline or on LNG vessels, to Europe. Turkey has aggressively interfered with efforts by these to drill for gas. Ankara claims that most of the waters around Cyprus actually belong to Turkey or to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a country recognized only by Turkey.

However, more important than simply preventing Eastern Mediterranean gas exports is the underlying strategy driving this push against Haftar. From the moment he assumed power in 2003, Erdogan has striven to elevate Turkey’s international role to that of a regional, if not global, power. Initially, his strategy was one of “zero problems with neighbors,” which served to emphasize Turkey’s soft power. The primary driver, however, was the desire for Turkey to assume a hegemonic position over the Middle East. This policy foundered and was essentially buried by the Arab Spring.

What has replaced it is a more aggressive and militarized posture that takes the fight to perceived enemies. That could mean anyone and everyone, since Turks tend to see most countries as a threat, even if they are allies. LINK

While Turkey has bet big and won big so far, it appears that the period of relatively easy victories is over and its aggressive moves are going to face more resistance in future. As Turkey continues to shows no sign of moderating its expansionist claims and manoeuvres, the region is now moving irrevocably towards a catastrophic military clash as Turkey and Egypt have drawn incompatible ‘red lines’ in Libya, with the coastal town of Sirte likely to be the detonator (or possibly the Jufra airbase to the south).

An international agreement promoted by the UN in 2014-2015 established an executive body and a legislative body to govern Libya and pave the way for a more permanent arrangement. However, fundamental disagreements between the two quasi-State organizations resulted in a complete split, with the executive arm becoming the ‘UN-backed’ Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives relocating to Tobruk (thus the legislative arm is also ‘UN-backed’, though this detail is usually omitted from mainstream media reports).

Turkey has allied itself with the Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt has allied itself with the House of Representatives (and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army – the LNA – headed by Khalifa Haftar). More generally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are invariably reported as supporting the LNA, while the GNA is mainly backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Following the drastic changes on the battlefield over the last two months as the GNA swept the LNA from its positions around Tripoli following a failed attempt to capture the Libyan capital, both Turkey and Egypt have committed themselves to positions that are in direct conflict, indicating that a major armed clash is inevitable unless there is a major diplomatic breakthrough or one of the two sides accepts a humiliating backdown.

Specifically, Turkey and the Government of National Accord are demanding that the Libyan National Army (which recently gave Egypt permission to send its armed forces into Libya) withdraw from the two areas (Sirte and Jufra) and have expressed their determination to take the areas by force if necessary. The Libyan National Army and Egypt have stated that any attempt to capture the two areas will result in Egypt entering Libya in force, which would result in a direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt. While Egypt has the advantage of sharing a long land border with Libya, in the event of a major conflict air and maritime power could be decisive.

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EGYPTIAN PARLIAMENT AUTHORIZES POSSIBLE DEPLOYMENT OF TROOPS TO LIBYA

Source

21.07.2020

Egyptian Parliament Authorizes Possible Deployment Of Troops To Libya

Egypt’s parliament on Monday unanimously approved the deployment of armed forces abroad if necessary to defend Egypt’s national security following the rapid expansion of Libya’s Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which appears to be preparing for a major assault to capture the key coastal city of Sirte.

The stage is set for a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Libya, which appears to be certain to occur if the armed forces of the Government of National Accord and its major ally Turkey attempt to capture Sirte. They appear determined to do so, notwithstanding repeated warnings by Egypt’s president that Egypt will join the battle in force if this occurs.

Under Egypt’s constitution, the president, who is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, shall not declare war or deploy troops outside the country without first seeking the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs.

Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament, the House of Representatives, has already granted permission for Egypt to deploy its armed forces in Libya if deemed necessary. Now, the Egyptian Parliament has cleared the way for any future deployment by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

In an official statement following a closed-door session, the parliament said it “unanimously approved sending elements of the Egyptian armed forces in combat missions outside the borders of the Egyptian state to defend the Egyptian national security in the western strategic front against the acts of criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements until the forces’ mission ends.”

“The Egyptian nation, throughout history, has advocated for peace, but it does not accept trespasses nor does it renounce its rights. Egypt is extremely able to defend itself, its interests, its brothers and neighbours from any peril or threat.”

“The armed forces and its leadership have the constitutional and legal licence to determine when and where to respond to these dangers and threats.” LINK

The decision was announced several days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt “will not stand idle” in the face of any attack on Sirte, which he earlier described as a “red line” for Egypt’s national security and warned it would prompt military intervention by Cairo.

President El-Sisi also met with Libyan tribal leaders on 16 July in Cairo, where they called on the Egyptian Armed Forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt.” El-Sisi said that Egypt “will quickly and decisively change the military situation” in Libya if it intervenes, adding that the Egyptian Army is one of the strongest in the region and Africa.

Earlier in July, the Egyptian Armed Forces conducted an exercise near Libya’s border. The drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the north-western district of Qabr Gabis, about 37 miles from the Libyan border.

The parliament also reviewed the outcomes of a meeting on Sunday of the country’s National Defence Council (NDC) headed by El-Sisi. The closed-door session was also attended by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad and Major General Mamdouh Shaheen, assistant minister of defence.

The statement of the NDC after Sunday’s meeting declared that Egypt seeks to stabilise the current situation in the field and not to cross declared lines — referring to the Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jafra — with the aim of bringing about peace between all Libyan parties.

“Egypt will spare no efforts to support the sister Libya and help its people to bring their country to safety and overcome the current critical crisis, grounded in the fact that Libya is one of the highest priorities for Egypt’s foreign policy, taking into account that Libyan security is inseparable from Egyptian and Arab national security.”

The NDC affirmed commitment to a political solution to put an end to the Libyan crisis, in a manner that maintains its sovereignty and national and regional unity, eliminates terrorism, and prevents the chaos of criminal groups and extremist armed militias. It also asserted the importance of limiting illegal foreign interference that contributes to aggravating the security situation and threatens neighbouring countries and international peace and security.

The meeting of the National Defence Council also discussed ongoing trilateral negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia concerning the latter’s Renaissance Dam Project.  LINK

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Assad Sends Pantsir Air Defense Systems To Counter Turkey In Libya

The Syrian government seems to be deploying Pantsir-S1 air defense systems to Libya to assist forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in their battle against the Turkish-controlled Government of National Accord.

An unusual Pantisr-S1 air defense system was for the first time spotted in Libya last week, when local activists released a video of a Libyan National Army convoy moving towards the port city of Sirte besieged by Turkish-led forces.

A spokesman for the GNA forces in the region, Brig. Abdul Hadi Draa, also said that the Pantsir-S1 systems and other weapons were deployed at the Sirte airport on July 11. One of the convoys moving towards the airport included the Pantsir-S1 system on the unusual KAMAZ-6560 8×8 chassis. Previously, all the Pantsir-S1 systems operated by the LNA were based on the German MAN SX 45 8×8 chassis. This variant was supplied by Russia to the UAE, which later supplied systems to the LNA.

Other discriminant marks of the filmed Pantsir-S1 were a desert yellow paint and the older passive electronically scanned array search radar. The only country in the Middle East that operates Pantsir-S1 systems with such specifications and supports the Libyan National Army is Syria.

Earlier in 2020, Syria officially established diplomatic ties with the House of Representatives, a democratically elected body that supports the Libyan National Army and manages the daily social and economic life in the territories controlled by it.

Damascus also sees the Libyan National Army and the House of Representatives as a natural ally because they also fight against the occupation of their country by Turkey.

In the last few weeks, Syrian Il-76 cargo planes made several unusual flights between Damascus International Airport and the al-Khadim Air Base in northeast Libya. The base is known to be hosting service members of the UAE that are involved in the assist and advice mission to support Haftar’s forces. The Pantsir-S1 system spotted on the road to Sirte may have been shipped from Syria to Libya during one of these flights.

At the same time, the Syrian government currently have good relations with Egypt, the UAE – the main backers of the Libyan National Army, and obviously with Russia – the producer of Pantsir-S1 systems and the country that provides background diplomatic support to the UAE-Egypt bloc in the conflict.

The Syrian Air Defense Forces operate dozens of Pantsir-S1 systems. Most of the Syrian systems are equipped with the advanced active electronically scanned array search radar. Therefore, Damascus may have opted to sell a part of its older systems to Haftar.

If this is confirmed, this move will likely allow Syria to improve its relations with the Libyan National Army, the UAE and Egypt, complicate Turkish plans to capture Srite, and last but not least strengthen the Syrian regional positions, which were significantly undermined by the ongoing war inside the country.

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WAR PREPARATIONS: EGYPT AND TURKEY KICK OFF LARGE-SCALE DRILLS NEAR LIBYA

Source

Turkey and Egypt are flexing their military muscles off the Libyan shores as chances of a potential war in the eastern Mediterranean continue growing.

Firstly, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense announced that soon it will hold large-scale naval exercises off the Libyan coast. The official statement said that the drills, called “Naftex”, will take place in three different regions: Barbaros, Turgutreis and Chaka Bey. Turkey says that the exercises will involve 17 warplanes and 8 ships proving “Turkey’s ability to control the region by air and sea”.

The current stalemate on the frontline between pro-Turkish forces and the Libyan National Army, backed up by Egypt and the UAE, near the port city of Sirte did not stop Turkey from sending new weapons and equipment to the frontline. The Turkish military also deployed additional equipment to the al-Watiya Air Base in western Libya. The airbase, which earlier this year became a strongpoint of Turkish forces, was recently bombed by the LNA Air Force. At least one MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air-defense system and a KORAL electronic warfare system of the Turkish military were reportedly destroyed. Pro-Turkish sources claim that the equipment recently deployed to the base included air defense systems that will give the LNA a ‘lesson’.

On July 9, the Egyptian Armed Forces kicked off its own drills in the region involving land, air and naval forces deployed near the Libyan border. The land component of the drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the northwestern district of Qabr Gabis. By this move, Egypt sent Turkey and its proxies a signal that an attempt by Turkish forces to capture Sirte is a red line and if crossed, they will face a Egyptian military response.

Taking into account, the logistical difficulties of Turkish forces and the apparent Egyptian military advantage in the event of a confrontation near its western border, the open intervention of Egypt into the conflict will put an end to Turkish hopes to consolidate its recently increased influence in Libya.

Meanwhile, ISIS have been trying to exploit the escalation for their own cause. According to reports, ISIS cells that still hide in the desert area in central Libya have recently increased their activity and resumed attacks on civilian targets mostly looting small villages and robbing civilian convoys. ISIS’ self-proclaimed Caliphate deteriorated into just a loud brand used by various gangs to justify their criminal behavior. Despite this, even such gangs will become a serious security issue if the conflict in Libya enters a new hot phase.

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‘We expect a Turkish attack at any time’: Libyan Army

Source

By News Desk -2020-07-10

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 P.M.) – The Libyan National Army spokesman, Ahmed Al-Mismari, said at a press conference this week that his forces are prepared for any provocation by the Turkish forces, especially near the city of Sirte.

Turkey and the GNA are expected to launch a big attack to capture Sirte and Al-Jafra in the coming day,s despite warnings from Egypt and the Libyan National Army.

On Thursday, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched a powerful exercise along the Libyan border that showcased their air, sea, and land strength.

Last month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi warned the GNA and Turkey that his country will not idly by as they attempt to capture the city of Sirte and nearby Al-Jafra.

Sisi declared Sirte and Al-Jafra as a “red line” for Egypt, pointing out that his country has the “international legitimacy” to intervene in neighboring Libya.

Turkish Forces Lick Wounds After Airstrikes Hit Their Base In Libya

Source

After a short break, the military confrontation between the Libyan National Army mainly backed up by Egypt and the UAE and the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord has once again entered an open phase.

On July 5, aircraft of the Libyan National Army conducted nine pinpoint airstrikes on the Turkish-operated al-Watiya Air Base in western Libya. According to the LNA, the strikes destroyed a Hawk air-defense system, several radars and a KORAL electronic warfare system. The Hawk system and other equipment were deployed to the base by the Turkish military in early July.

Turkish state media confirmed the incident saying that the strikes “targeted some of the base’s equipment, which was recently brought in to reinforce the base, including an air-defense system”. Pro-Turkish sources claimed that the airstrikes were carried out not by the LNA, but rather by the Egyptian or UAE Air Force. According to them, the warplanes took off from Egypt’s Sidi Barrani Air Base. However, according to the LNA, the strikes were delivered by its aircraft deployed in Libya. Commenting on the situation, the GNA said that it would respond at the “right place and at the right time.”

While the GNA in fact has no resources to conduct extensive airstrikes deep inside the territory controlled by the LNA, Ankara will have to respond to this attack in some way if it really wants to demonstrate that Turkey is committed to achieving a military victory (or at least a partial military victory) in the conflict in Libya.

At least 5,250 Syrian militants out of 15,300 originally deployed in Libya have returned to Syria, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The SOHR claimed that 300 Syrian child soldiers are still fighting in Libya. All of them range in ages between 14 and 18. Most of them were recruited by the Turkish-backed al-Sultan Murad Division. It’s interesting to note that the numbers provided by the SOHR mostly fit other sources that argue that about 10,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants are currently deployed in Libya.

Therefore, Ankara is apparently set to continue its offensive operations by the hands of the GNA and Syrian groups in the countryside of Sirte. This strategic port city is now the main priority of Turkish-led forces.

On the other hand, if Turkey continues escalating the conflict, it may force Egypt and the UAE, the main backers of the LNA, to provide direct military support to the LNA and directly intervene in the conflict. In this case, the Libyan ‘civil war’ will officially turn into a war between Turkey and the UAE-Egypt bloc.

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Russian Private Military Contractors Took Control Of Libya’s Largest Oil Field

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Washington is concerned by the growing Russian influence in Libya as Turkish-led forces are preparing to storm the port city of Sirte, controlled by the Libyan National Army.

On June 26, the US embassy in Libya released a statement claiming that it condemns a “foreign-backed campaign to undermine Libya’s energy sector and prevent the resumption of oil production.”

The statement said that the US shares the “deep concern” of the National Oil Corporation affiliated with the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord about “the shameful interference” of foreign private military contractors against “NOC facilities and personnel at the al-Sharara oil field, which constitutes a direct assault against Libya’s sovereignty and prosperity.”

According to the NOC, on June 25 a convoy of vehicles of Russian private military contractors and other foreign personnel entered the Al-Sharara oilfield and met with representatives of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, a local armed organization allied with the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The NOC’s chairman Mustafa Sanalla claimed that foreign forces work to “prevent the resumption of oil production” there.

Al-Sharara is the largest Libyan oil field with total proven reserves of 3 billion barrels and an average output of 300,000 barrels per day. It indeed briefly resumed its work in early June when Syrian militants and forces of the Government of National Accord supported by the Turkish military reached the western countryside of the LNA stronghold of Sirte.

However, then, the production there was once again stopped as the LNA stabilized the frontline and demonstrated that it’s still the main power in the east and south of the country.

Earlier, Field Marshal Haftar ordered to block the export of Libyan oil saying that the GNA uses oil revenues to pay Turkey for mercenaries and weapons. The LNA also controls Sirte, the main Libyan port facility for oil exports. So, even in the case of the resumption of the oil output at the frozen oil fields, it’s still able to keep most of its export ban.

The LNA’s prolonged effort against the usage of the country’s natural resources to fund the Turkish intervention of Libya signals that its leadership is still committed to its project of uniting the country and restoring its sovereignty.

LNA forces are preparing to defend Sirte from the large attack for which Turkish-led forces are currently preparing.

Recently, GNA forces and Syrian militant groups deployed west of Sirte received a large batch of weapons and equipment from Turkey. According to photos appearing online, these weapons even included Chinese-made MANPADs of the QW-1 series.

Photos of these MANPADs appeared amid the wave of reports that the LNA Air Force received new combat jets from Russia. While the usage of these mysterious warplanes is still yet to be documented, MANPADs in the hands of Turkish-backed fighters are a confirmed fact.

The Turkish naval group deployed near Libyan shores in the Mediterranean conducts regular readiness drills. In its own turn, the LNA has reportedly prepared Gaddafi-era Scud tactical ballistic missiles for the upcoming battle. Trucks with ballistic missiles moving in the countryside of the city were spotted on June 27.

Pro-GNA sources also claimed that the LNA was deploying additional troops and 2 Pantsir-S air defense systems to Sirte on June 28 and June 29. Without direct military support from abroad the LNA has no resources to overcome the current status quo and deliver a devastating blow to GNA forces assisted by the Turkish military.

However, without larger Turkish involvement in the conflict, GNA forces and Syrian militant groups also lack the needed resources to capture Sirte in the near future.

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مصر فى دائرة الخطر

د. محمد السعيد إدريس
‏24 يونيو 2020

د. محمد السعيد إدريس يكتب: إيران تنتظر القول الفصل من هلسنكي ...

على الرغم من كل تلك التسريبات التى كان يتم تسريبها عن عمد من جانب دوائر معادية لمصر، تسريبات تشارك فيها أطراف متعدد تكشف مدى التربص بمصر وبالدور المصرى، إلا أن ما يحدث الآن من تهديد متعدد الأطراف وفى تزامن غير مسبوق تجاوز كل مضامين تلك التسريبات التى كانت تؤكد أن “مصر ستبقى مصدراً للتهديد يجب التحسب له”.

من أبرز تلك التسريبات كانت مقولة أن مصر هى “التفاحة الكبرى” أو “الهدية الكبرى” التى جرى إطلاقها فى غمرة تساقط العواصم العربية الواحدة تلو الأخرى، كانت تلك المقولة تحمل إشارات أن “موعد مصر لم يأت بعد”، وأن هذا الموعد “سيأتى حتماً”. الملفت أن معظم هذه التسريبات كانت أمريكية وإسرائيلية، ما يعنى أن توقيع مصر لاتفاق السلام مع إسرائيل، لم يكن كافياً لإرضاء غرور الإسرائيليين، ولم يتوقفوا لحظة عن التعامل معها باعتبارها “العدو التاريخى”، وإن كان الصراع معها يبدو “صراعاً مؤجلاً” لحين الانتهاء من حسم مصائر الملفات الأخرى مثار التهديد. لم تتوقف أنظارهم لحظة عن متابعة تطور القدرات العسكرية المصرية بقلق شديد، سواء من ناحية كفاءة التسليح وتنوع مصادره بعيداً عن “أحادية التحكم الأمريكية” فى مصادر التسليح المصرى، أو من منظور تطور الكفاءة القتالية المصرية. ولم تغب سيناء لحظة عن أطماعهم انتظاراً لمجئ الوقت والحوافز التى تفرض عليهم العودة إليها مجدداً كى يتحول شعار “إسرائيل الكبرى” من “حلم” أو “أوهام” إلى أمر واقع.

لم تكن إسرائيل وحدها هى من يناصب مصر العداء ولكن كانت تركيا وبالذات مع سقوط أحلام رئيسها فى إحياء عهد “الخلافة العثمانية” بالتأسيس لـ “عثمانية جديدة”، مع سقوط مشروع حكم الإخوان فى مصر، وكانت إثيوبيا، ولكن على استحياء، وربما بخبث ودهاء يفوق الدهاء الإسرائيلى ويتجاوز الرعونة التركية، لكن ما يحدث الآن من تناغم فى التخطيط ضد مصر، سواء بتنسيق أو عدم تنسيق، بين إسرائيل وإثيوبيا وتركيا، يكشف، وربما للمرة الأولى أن مصر باتت “فى عمق دائرة الخطر”. فهل من الصدفة أن يتزامن إعلان رئيس الحكومة الإسرائيلية بنيامين نتنياهو وتأكيده أن يوليو المقبل هو موعد البدء الإسرائيلى الفعلى فى فرض السيادة الإسرائيلية على الكتل الاستيطانية الإسرائيلية ووادى عربة فى الضفة الغربية المحتلة، مع إعلان آبى أحمد رئيس الحكومة الإثيوبية تحديد يوليو المقبل موعداً لبدء ملء خزان “سد النهضة الإثيوبى” بالمياه، دون انتظار، أو بالأحرى دون اعتبار، لتوافق مع كل من مصر والسودان حول القضايا الخلافية المثارة معهما؟

فرض السيادة الإسرائيلية، بإرادة إسرائيلية مستقلة وبدعم أمريكى على الجزء الأكبر من الضفة الغربية للشروع الفعلى فى تصفية القضية الفلسطينية وفرض مشروع “إسرائيل الكبرى” كدولة يهودية على كل أرض فلسطين، وفرض السيادة الإثيوبية على نهر النيل وتصفية كل الحقوق التاريخية لمصر والسودان فى نهر النيل، التزاماً بقول آبى أحمد رئيس الحكومة الإثيوبية أن سد النهضة “أصبح قضية شرف وطنى ولن نتخلى عنه” وتأكيدات وزير خارجيته بأن “الأرض أرضنا، والمياه مياهنا، والمال الذى يبنى به سد النهضة مالنا، ولا قوة يمكنها معنا من بنائه”. هل هذا كله يمكن أن يكون محض صدفة وأن يكون شهر يوليو المقبل، أى بعد ما يقرب من أسبوع من الآن هو موعد خوض “معركة السيادة” الإسرائيلية والإثيوبية ضد مصر، باعتبار أن مصر أول المعنيين بمصير القضية الفلسطينية من منظور الأمن الوطنى المصرى البحت باعتبار أن فلسطين مكون أساسى فى نظرية الأمن الوطنى المصرى ناهيك عن كونها قضية أمن قومى عربى بالدرجة الأولى، ومصر هى على رأس المعنيين بواقع ومستقبل هذا الأمن القومى العربى.

من الصعب أن نتعامل ببراءة، ولا أقول بسذاجة مع المدلول الفعلى للتزامن فى شروع تل أبيب وأديس أبابا خوض ما يسمونه بـ “معركة فرض السيادة”، فى ظل قوة العلاقات الإسرائيلية- الإثيوبية، ووجود مكون شعبى إثيوبى مهم ضمن مكونات “الشعب الإسرائيلى” (يهود الفلاشا الإثيوبيين) ومجمل الإتفاقيات التى جرى التوقيع عليها بين إسرائيل وإثيوبيا خلال زيارة رئيس الحكومة الإثيوبية لإسرائيل، وفى ظل تأكيدات بأن “إسرائيل طرف قوى فى ملف سد النهضة” و”أطماع إسرائيل فى مياه النيل” وكونها طرفاً مباشراً فى إدارة ملف سد النهضة وتداعياته، سواء من الجانب الأمنى فى ظل تسريبات تؤكد بأن شبكة صواريخ إسرائيلية متطورة باتت مسئولة عن حماية سد النهضة، أو من الجانب التقنى حسب ما أفصحت عنه نائبة المدير العام للشئون الأفريقية فى وزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلية أيثان شيلين فى لقائها مع هيروت زامين وزيرة الدولة الإثيوبية للشئون الخارجية، حسب ما أوردته وكالة الأنباء الإثيوبية الرسمية، حيث أعلنت إسرائيل على لسان إيثان شيلين “استعدادها لتبادل الخبرات مع إثيوبيا فى مجال إدارة المياه”، ووصفت العلاقات الإسرائيلية مع إثيوبيا بأنها “تاريخية وتدعمها علاقات قوية بين الشعبين”.

هل ما يحدث هو توافق أم تحالف إسرائيلى- إثيوبى لإحكام الضغط على مصر؟

السؤال تزداد أهميته، بل وخطورته بدخول تركيا كطرف مباشر فى ما يمكن تسميته بـ “معركة كسر إرادات مع مصر” وهذه المرة فى العمق الإستراتيجى لمصر بالأراضى الليبية. تركيا التى تقاتل بعنف فى شمال سوريا لفرض منطقة نفوذ تركية شمال سوريا معتمدة على تحالفها مع المنظمات الإرهابية المتطرفة، وتسعى لإسقاط النظام فى سوريا، سواء بتنسيق مباشر أو غير مباشر مع كل من الولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل لتحقيق نفس الهدف تحت غطاء خوض معركة إخراج إيران من سوريا، اختارت هذه المرة فى عدائها المباشر مع مصر أن تتجاوز احتضان كل القوى المتآمرة ضد مصر على الأراضى التركية، وأن تنقل تهديدها إلى الحدود المصرية المباشرة فى إعلان تهديد مباشر للأمن المصرى من خلال دعم حكومة الوفاق برئاسة فايز السراج، دعماً عسكرياً بالأسلحة المتطورة وبالميليشيات الإرهابية لفرض السيطرة الكاملة على ليبيا. وفى إعلان تهديد مباشر للمصالح الاقتصادية المصرية من خلال السعى لفرض سيطرتها على حقول غاز المتوسط بالشكل الذى تريده إسقواءً بالسيطرة على القرار الليبى بهذا الخصوص.

تركيا تخوض الآن معركة خليج سرت، ويؤكد رئيسها رجب طيب أردوغان أنه “لن تكون تكون هناك أى مفاوضات سياسية، أو وقف لإطلاق النار فى ليبيا إلا بعد سيطرة قوات حلفائه على مدينة سرت” لذلك رفض إعلان القاهرة كمبادرة مصرية لحل الأزمة الليبية سياسياً، ويسعى للسيطرة على مدينة سرت باعتبارها “بوابة الشرق الليبى” حيث آبار النفط والغاز واحتياطياته الرئيسية، وإذا نجح فى هذه المعركة فإنه يعتقد أنه سيكون بمقدوره تكريس النفوذ التركى فى ليبيا سياسياً وعسكرياً.

يحدث هذا كله على حدود مصر الغربية بتزامن مع ما يحدث من تهديد إثيوبى لموارد مصر الحياتية من مياه النيل، ومع المخطط الإسرائيلى للتوسع والتهويد وفرض السيادة على معظم أنحاء الضفة الغربية فى وقت بدأت فيه الإدارة الأمريكية بفرض أقسى وأقصى عقوبات ضد سوريا ببدء تنفيذ أسوأ قانون عقوبات أمريكى على سوريا يحمل اسم “قانون قيصر لحماية المدنيين السوريين” لعلها تستطيع أن تحقق بالعقوبات الاقتصادية ما عجزت هى وحلفاءها عن تحقيقه طيلة السنوات الماضية، بالعمل العسكرى الذى تحول فعلاً إلى “حرب على سوريا” ابتداء من عام 2014، هدفه ليس فقط إسقاط الحكم السورى وإنهاء تحالفه مع إيران بل كان الهدف هو إسقاط سوريا كما أسقط العراق.
ما يحدث هو “هندسة للأزمات” المحيطة بمصر تضعها فى عمق “دائرة الخطر” الذى يجمع للمرة الأولى إسرائيل وإثيوبيا وتركيا فى تهديد مصر وأمنها ومصالحها الوطنية، تطور يفرض على مصر حسابات ومراجعات كثيرة للأهداف والمصالح والقدرات لمواجهة الخطر.

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AL-SISI SAYS EGYPT HAS RIGHT TO INTERVENE IN LIBYA, VOWS TO PROTECT SIRTE & AL-JUFRA (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

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Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on June 20 that any Egyptian intervention in Libya has an international legitimacy and ordered his army to be prepared for missions inside or outside Egypt.

Al-Sisi made his remarks while he was inspecting Egyptian troops in the western region. The president toured an air base near Egypt’s border with Libya, where thousands of troops as well as state of the art weapon systems are deployed.

“Be prepared to carry out any mission, here inside our borders – or if necessary, outside our borders,” the President said in a speech to his troops, according to Reuters.

The Egyptian President said his country is working to protect its western border, support security and stability in Libya and stop the bloodshed there.

المتحدث الرسمي لرئاسة الجمهورية

-Spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency5 hours ago

تفقد السيد الرئيس الوحدات المقاتلة للقوات الجوية بالمنطقة الغربية العسكرية صباح اليوم

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Al-Sisi went on to call for a ceasefire between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Government of National Accord (GNA), warning the latter from attacking the port city of Sirte and the al-Jufra Air Base.

“Let’s stop at the line both sides reached in the western and eastern regions and start a ceasefire … The line of Sirte, al-Jufra is a red line for Egypt and its national security,” al-Sisi said.

The President also revealed that Egypt is ready to train, equip and arm Libyan tribesman in order to defend and secure their own land.

Hinting at the growing Turkish intervention in Libya, al-Sisi called on all foreign forces to immediately withdraw, saying that “illegitimate interventions” are spreading terrorism in the region.

In the last few months, Turkey stepped up its support for the GNA enabling it to secure major gains in northwest Libya. In response, the Egyptian military amassed a large force on the Libyan border. Since then, battles have winded down in Libya, especially around Sirte.

Egypt appears to be determined to stop Turkish expansion in Libya. Nevertheless, Cairo will not likely employ a direct military intervention option before exhausting all diplomatic options.

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Massive Libyan Army convoy reaches Sirte for showdown with Turkish-backed forces: video

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By News Desk -2020-06-20

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:10 A.M.) – A massive Libyan National Army (LNA) convoy was filmed this week heading to the Sirte front-lines from a major showdown with the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces.

According to the Libyan National Army, their forces deployed to the western countryside of Sirte, where they later took up positions along the front-lines with the Government of National Accord forces and their allies.

A video showing the massive military convoy heading to Sirte was released on RT Arabic’s YouTube channel on Friday; it showed hundreds of vehicles and a large number of soldiers making their way to the strategic port-city.

The Government of National Accord is preparing to storm the city of Sirte for the second time this month, as they seek to reverse all of the Libyan National Army’s gains that were made this year.

Sirte was first captured by Government of National Accord forces during their campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) in northern Libya in 2016; however, they would later lose the city in early 2020, when the Libyan National Army launched a surprise offensive there.

The GNA has since been able to retake several areas in northern Libya, including a number of cities and towns near the capital, Tripoli.

OVER 2,600 TURKISH-BACKED SYRIAN MILITANTS HAVE RETURNED FROM LIBYA – REPORT

Over 2,600 Turkish-Backed Syrian Militants Have Returned From Libya – Report

More than 2,600 Turkish-backed Syrian militants have returned from Libya where they were fighting for the Government of National Accord (GNA), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on June 19.

“The returnees have received all of their financial entitlements after the recent advance by GNA forces in Libya,” the monitoring group’s report reads.

At least 12,100 Syrian militants are still present in Libya. According to the SOHR, Turkey is now working to deploy even more militants there. More than 1,800 Syrians are currently receiving military training in camps inside Turkey ahead of deployment.

The SOHR also revealed that 300 Syrian militants fighting in GNA forces are minors, between the ages of 14 and 18. Most of these minors were recruited by the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad Division.

Despite the relative calm in Libya, the remaining Syrian militants there are still taking part in combat operations. In the last few days, at least 17 were killed. This raised the number of Syrians killed while fighting in Libya to 417.

The deployment of Syrian militants in Libya boosted the offensive capabilities of GNA forces, enabling them to make gains in northwest Libya.

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