TUE 17 - 9 - 2019
Date: May 21, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Libya govt gets new arms from abroad despite embargo
CAIRO/TRIPOLI: Fighters allied with the U.N.-recognized government in Libya’s capital said they had received armored vehicles and “quality weapons” despite a U.N. arms embargo on the country. A Facebook page linked to the Tripoli government posted photos Saturday appearing to show more than a dozen armored vehicles arriving at port, without saying who supplied them. “The GNA supplies armor, ammunition and ... weapons, to its forces who are defending Tripoli,” a statement published on Facebook read.

Supporters of the various militias allied with the government said the vehicles, which resemble Turkish-made Kirpi armored vehicles, were supplied by Turkey.

Spokesmen for Turkey’s military and Foreign Ministry did immediately not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month his government would stand by Tripoli authorities as they repel an offensive launched by Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.

The battle for the Libyan capital has threatened to ignite a civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The U.N. Security Council imposed an open-ended arms embargo on Libya in February of the same year.

Fathi Bashagha, the interior minister for the Tripoli-based government, also visited Turkey late in April to activate “security and defense agreements” between the two governments.

The GNA said the new weaponry had been supplied “in preparation for a vast operation to annihilate the rebels of the war criminal, the rebel Haftar.”

The offensive on Tripoli was launched April 4 by the LNA, which controls the country’s eastern half.

Haftar, who in recent years has been battling Islamist extremists and other militias across eastern Libya, has said he is determined to restore stability to the North African country.

His opponents view him as an aspiring autocrat and fear a return to one-man rule.

In a September report, the U.N.’s group of experts on the country noted an increase in the number of armored vehicles supplied to Haftar’s LNA. Haftar has been accused by detractors of receiving support including armored vehicles from foreign states, particularly neighboring Egypt and the UAE.

In turn, he has accused Turkey and Qatar of supplying weapons to his rivals.

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