Egypt has sent military aircraft to eastern Libya to support General Khalifa Haftar’s militias, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), according to al-Arabi al Jadeed.
The planes carrying military equipment and weapons arrived at the al-Kharruba airbase in eastern Libya, reported al-Arabi al Jadeed, citing a source, who works closely with the military operation al-Bunyan al-Marsous.
At the same time, Egyptian military sources said Egypt was not bypassing the international ban on exporting weapons to Libya, but rather offering support against “terrorist organisations” there and guarding its western borders to prevent terrorists from smuggling through the borders.
Private sources told al-arabi al-Jadeed last June that Egyptian army officers arrived in Libya to train Haftar’s forces and contribute to military plans.
General Khalifa Haftar -backed by Tobruk government and the House of Representatives (HoR)- opposes the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) that launched Operation al-Bunyan al-Marsous in May to free the city of Sirte from the Islamic State (IS) group.
Haftar is supported by France, Egypt and UAE. His power has also extended recently when he seized Libya’s ” oil crescent” in September defeating a force of oil terminal guards who had announced allegiance to the GNA.
In response, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed support for Haftar’smilitias.
He said, “Egypt fully supports the moves” of Haftar’s forces to “maintain security and stability in Libya and to secure its oil wealth.”
Haftar’s militias are composed mainly of former army officers from eastern Libya who defected at the outset of the 2011 revolt, including air force units and special forces.
Since 2011, Libya fell into chaos after the revolt that overthrew long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with rival governments struggling to control the country.