On April 7th, Mohamed Siala, foreign minister of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) accused Jordan of supplying Chinese-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
Siala, on behalf of the GNA, said in a letter to the United Nations Security Council that foreign nations are supplying weapons to the LNA and thus violating the arms embargo.
“One of the aircraft being used in the war against Tripoli and the cities of western Libya is the Chinese Wing Loong drone, which Haftar recently brought in from Jordan,” he wrote. “According to available information, the drones were sold to Jordan for the purpose of protecting that country’s frontier. However, having been delivered to Haftar’s forces, they are now being used outside its borders in a clear violation of Security Council resolutions.”
Siala said the aircraft were delivered to Benghazi on an Il-76TD cargo aircraft that arrived from Jordan on March 28th.
Flight tracking data shows an Il-76TD operated by Kazakhstan’s Jenis Air was flying from Amman towards Benghazi when its transponder stopped transmitting after 1500h GMT.
The aircraft, UP-17652, has been on several flights from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan to Libya in recent weeks.
Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Sima Bahous denied the allegation, saying it was “spurious and completely devoid of truth. Jordan does not possess that type of aircraft and has not sent it to Libya”.
Bahous added that Jordan “rejects any attempt at foreign intervention of any sort [and] is committed to all Security Council resolutions on Libya without exception, including those concerning the sanctions regime”.
According to Jane’s, Jordan doesn’t even have Chinese-made Wing Loong UAVs, but it has CH-4Bs, which it put up for sale back in 2019.
The CH-4 was introduced in 2011 and has been in Chinese service since 2014. It has also been sold to Iraq – Iraq’s CH-4Bs have been armed with AR-1 missiles and FT-9 50 kg guided bombs and used to attack Islamic State targets.
The CH-4 has a maximum take-off weight of 1 330 kg and a payload of 345 kg in addition to its electro-optical turret and synthetic aperture radar. The aircraft has a wingspan of 18 metres and length of 8.5 metres. It is powered by a 100 hp class piston engine giving a top speed of 235 km/h and cruise speed of 180 km/h with endurance of up to 40 hours.
Recently, the EU initiated its Operation IRINI, which would enforce the arms embargo on Libya, beginning in the Mediterranean and then it could possibly also focus on air and ground deliveries.
Turkey primarily uses ships to supply its own Bayraktar TB2 drones, as well as other equipment to Libya and strongly opposed the operation, as it would presumably allow the LNA to get supplies by air and ground, while the Turkish-backed GNA would be on the back foot.
Furthermore, 3 more IL-76 cargo planes were recorded traveling from the UAE to Libya, like making new deliveries.
The ??UAE-??#Libya express visualized: This morning (06:00 UTC), three Ilyushin Il-76TDs heading west over Egypt. 2 from #Sweihan Air Base, 1 #Sharjah.
At least one of them (“Jenis Air” UP-I7652/#JEN1366) is currently over Libya. I suspect the others went to Sidi Barrani, Egypt. pic.twitter.com/TQjvb2aM5Y
— Gerjon | חריון (@Gerjon_) April 9, 2020
The LNA’s air defense downed an aircraft, likely a UAV, over Al-Wattia air base on the evening of April 8th.
وحدات الدفاع الجوية بالقوات المسلحة #LNA تسقط طائرة #مسيرة #تركية فوق قاعدة #الوطية الجوية قبل قليل. #ليبيا
— ابن ليبيا السرتاوي?????? (@MstrMax11) April 8, 2020
Meanwhile, the GNA announced that Military vehicle, fuel, goods truck should move in the Western and Central regions, as military strikes could hit them, and they should always contact the Operation Volcano of Rage operations room before any movement.
#GNA army spox announced the Westren and Central regions as Military operation area’s any Military vehicle, fuel, goods truck are not allowed to move without contact us first. pic.twitter.com/L9TYxtzAt8
— Tashfin (@TashfinLy) April 8, 2020
This could likely mean that the GNA did, in fact, strike civilian vehicles, and not ones that were not delivering arms and supplies to the LNA.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Haftar’s Forces Carry Out Heavy Shelling Of GNA Positions In Tripoli And Mitiga Airport
- Turkish UAV Allegedly Targeted Civilian Plane, As Tripoli Clashes Ramp Up