Libyan fighters seize US and Chinese missiles from Haftar's forces

Libyan fighters seize US and Chinese missiles from Haftar's forces

American Javelin anti-tank missiles confiscated from eastern forces led by Khalifa Haftar in Gharya
A member of forces allied to Libya's internationally recognized government looks at American Javelin anti-tank missiles, which were confiscated from eastern forces led by Khalifa Haftar in Gharyan, in Tripoli, Libya June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

TRIPOLI: Forces allied to Libya's internationally recognised government based in Tripoli captured sophisticated US and Chinese rockets as well as drones when they seized a town from eastern forces last week, officials said on Saturday (Jun 29).

On Wednesday, Tripoli's forces took Gharyan, south of the capital, which eastern forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar had used as their main supply base to attack Tripoli, home to the recognised administration.

Officials showed journalists weapons they said had been seized, among them sophisticated US-made Javelin anti-tank missiles.

They also presented advanced Chinese-made laser-guided artillery shells, and said combat drones had been also been captured, in addition to some 150 prisoners.

Inscriptions on the Javelin missiles said they had originally belonged to the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates, one of Haftar's main backers.

UN reports have previously said that the UAE and Egypt have been arming Haftar's Libya National Army (LNA) since 2014, but details have been unclear.

Oded Berkowitz, Israeli security analyst and deputy chief intelligence officer of the MAX consultancy, said it was the first time that Javelins had been sighted in the Libya conflict.

"The weapons themselves are highly advanced but wouldn't be a game changer in Libya," he said. "The real political game changer is the fact that advanced US systems were delivered to a third party, and this may push the US to oppose the UAE and their support for the LNA."

Haftar began his assault on Tripoli on Apr 4, surprising the United Nations, which had been preparing for a national conference to try to end the chaos gripping Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The offensive by the LNA, which is allied to a parallel administration in the east, has not made it beyond the southern suburbs of Tripoli.

Turkey has supplied Tripoli's forces with drones and other military equipment, according to diplomats.

Source: Reuters/nh