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Russia has deployed an advanced S-300 air defense system to Libya to support the forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar against the Turkish military and its proxies, local media reported on August 5.
According to photos surfacing online, the supposed S-300 system is deployed near the town of Ras Lanuf, a key oil export port controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA). The town is located more than 200km away from the port city of Sirte, which the LNA is defending against Turkish-led forces.
The circulating photos supposedly show a 96L6E Cheese Board radar and a transporter erector launcher (TEL) similar to those used in S-300 and S-400 air-defense systems. This 3D early-warning and acquisition radar has a range of 300 km and can track up to 100 targets simultaneously.
Last month, several Arab sources already reported that an S-300 system had bee deployed in Libya. Egypt, an ally of the LNA, operates a variant of the system that is different from the one allegedly spotted near Ras Lanuf.
Turkish sources are already crying foul about the cowardly Russians who are aiming to shoot down peaceful Turkish combat drones democratically bombing LNA-controlled cities. At the same time, it should be noted that the photos from the Ras Lanuf area are yet to be verified. In particular, the pictured radar also looks similar to those of the Iranian-made Khordad-15 air defense system, which was used in 2019 to shoot down a RQ-4A Global Hawk BAMS-D surveillance drone of the United States over the Strait of Hormuz. In any case, if any of these versions is confirmed, it will be sad news for the Erdogan sultanate and its proxies.
Despite active preparations for an attack on Sirte, the Turkish Armed Forces, pro-Turkish Syrian militants and Tripoli forces have not yet launched an attack on the port city, likely fearing a direct military response by Egypt to such a move. Sporadic clashes regularly erupt west of Sirte and sides exchange isolated airstrikes, but the general situation on the frontline has stabilized.
This means that the conflict has at least temporarily entered into a positional war stage. In these conditions, the main backers of Field Marshal Khaftar – Egypt and the UAE, partially supported by France and Russia, have every chance to take the upper hand in this standoff even without the direct involvement of Russia or other major powers at their side.