UPDATED: The LNA released an additional clarification of its statement saying that “friendly” warplanes were belonging to it. However, it remains unclear why the LNA spokesman used this term to descrbe LNA jets involved in the Tripoli offensive.
Warplanes of a foreign nation supporting the Libyan National Army (LNA) carried out several airstrikes on forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) over the last few days, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the LNA, confirmed on April 19.
“The participation of these friendly warplanes is aimed at destroying GNA forces in the area of al-Aziziyah, southwest of Tripoli, in the framework of the military operation that’s ongoing for the second week,” Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Mesmari said during a press conference.
Earlier this week, several Libyan sources claimed that pro-GNA forces were attacked by Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) of the French Air Force. However, experts said that the UCAVs were likely belonging to the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF), which controls al-Khadim airbase in eastern Libya.
A report released by IHS Jane’s in 2016 revealed that the air base is hosting six IOMAX AT-802i BPA light attack and recommission warplanes, two Chinese-made CAIG Wing Loong UCAVs and two Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters of the UAEAF.
Two years ago, satellite images by TerraServer showed that the UAE is expanding the airbase. Several shelters, which are big enough to host modern fighter jets, were built there. These shelters could host the UAEF’s F-16E/F or Mirage 2000EAD/RAD fighter jets.
Al-Mesmari’s announcement was likely pre-agreed upon with the LNA’s allies, which are apparently ready to directly participate in the ongoing battle against the GNA.