On July 12, Libyan activists shared a video and photos showing a military convoy consisting of several trucks and at least one Panstri-S1 air-defense system heading to the coastal town of Sirte.
A spokesman for the Government of National Accord (GNA) forces in the region, Brig. Abdul Hadi Draa, confirmed that Pantsir-S1 systems and other weapons were deployed at the Sirte airport on July 11.
The Pantsir-S1 system seen in the video and photos is based on a KAMAZ-6560 8×8 truck. This means that it was not deployed by the UAE. All the systems operated by UAE forces are based on German MAN SX 45 8×8 trucks.
#Libya– #GNA photos from video circulating on social media purportedly showing #LNA convoy heading to #Sirte.
Note the Pantsir-S1/SA-22 Greyhound is on 8×8 Kamaz truck chassis & the Ural 4320 truck, indicating likely #Russia|n PMC pic.twitter.com/ZNGx6ppLVN
— Oded Berkowitz (@Oded121351) July 12, 2020
يُقال إن هذه المدرعات قدمت اليوم من الشرق باتجاه سرت، وقبل المغرب توقفت في هراوة، تقدر بحوالي 25 مدرعة و2 بانتسير.
مخطيءٌ من يتصور إن الحرب وضعت أوزارها أو إن الحرب طرابلس فقط ويكتفي بالإستغراض العسكري بينما التحشيد على أشده في سرت. pic.twitter.com/01Jb8xaYVl
— Faisel Ali Elsherif (@F1091975yahooc1) July 11, 2020
The spotted Pantsir-S1 system has a desert yellow paint and is equipped with the older passive electronically scanned array search radar. The only country in the Middle East that operates Pantsir-S1 systems with such specifications and supports the Libyan National Army (LNA) is Syria.
Earlier this year, Damascus recognized the LNA’s government in Benghazi. Recent reports claimed that Damascus is working with Russia to support the army. Damascus also enjoys good relations with the LNA allies, Egypt and the UAE.
In the last few weeks, Syria’s Il-76 cargo planes made several unusual flights between Damascus International Airport and al-Khadim Air Base in northeast Libya. The base is known to be hosting troops of the UAE. The Pantsir-S1 system spotted en route to Sirte may have been shipped from Syria to Libya during one of these flights.
— Gerjon | חריון (@Gerjon_) June 30, 2020
The Syrian Air Defense Forces operate dozens of Pantsir-S1 systems. Most of the Syrian systems are equipped with the advanced active electronically scanned array search radar. Damascus may have sold some of its older systems to the LNA to help ti to confront Turkey’s growing influence in Libya and to improve relations with the LNA backers – the UAE and Egypt – and further.
There is no official confirmation that Syria has deployed Pantsir-S1 systems in Libya. However, the specifications of the system spotted in Sirte, and the growing cooperation between Damascus and the LNA indicate that this is very likely.