Libyan National Army denies receiving new fighter jets

LNA spokesman says all combat aircraft used since beginning of Al-Karama Operations Room are jets that have been repaired by LNA engineers, technicians.

TRIPOLI - The Libyan National Army denied Wednesday receiving any new fighter jets in their fight against the Government of National Accord forces and their militias.

LNA spokesman, General Ahmed al-Mesmari, said that military commander Khalifa Haftar’s army had not received any new combat aircraft.

“All combat aircraft used since the beginning of Al-Karama Operations Room are jets that have been repaired by LNA engineers and technicians,” said Mesmari.

The US military earlier on Tuesday accused Russia of deploying fighter aircraft to Libya to support Russian mercenaries fighting for eastern forces there, adding to concerns of a new escalation in the conflict. 

The warplanes left Russia and first stopped in Syria, where they "were repainted to camouflage their Russian origin" before arriving in Libya, said the US military command for Africa (Africom) in a statement.

Africom posted pictures of the Russian aircraft on its Twitter feed, including one that it said showed several MiG-29 Fulcrum jets and Su-35 Flankers parked at an airbase.

Mesmari said Turkey’s military intervention in war-torn Libya has become larger and represented a dangerous escalation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sent Syrian mercenaries to Libya to support Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s GNA forces and armed militias loyal to him in their battle against Haftar’s despite repeated international warnings against foreign interference.

Mesmari stressed that terrorist elements were active in Tripoli, according to the video and evidence, adding that militias use families as human shields in the Ain Zara municipality in south of Tripoli.

He added that swarms of Turkish drones arrived in Misrata, explaining that the losses caused to the militias pushed the Turkish media and pro-militia media to launch rumours.

There has been a major influx of Turkish mercenaries, weapons and equipment over the past weeks, and Turkish officers are now running the operations. 

The number of Syrian fighters in Libya has so far reached 9,000 while Turkey initially planned to send no more than 6,000 fighters, due to the impact of the losses incurred by Ankara’s allies against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s LNA forces.

Regional and global powers interfered in the civil war in Libya with what the United Nations said was a massive flow of arms and fighters in violation of the arms embargo.

Libya’s neighbours expressed concerns about the repercussions of foreign intervention on the region’s security and stability amid fears of a repeat of the Syrian scenario.

Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum warned Wednesday of the danger of the massive flow of arms into Libya.

“The influx of arms into Libya in flagrant violation of international resolutions has not only fueled the civil war but also favoured the arming of terrorist groups, which now threaten the security of the region and hamper the political settlement process,” warned Boukadoum.