Turkish state media confirmed that the recent airstrikes on the al-Watiya Air Base in western Syria had destroyed an air-defense system.
Citing a Libyan military source, the state-run agency Anadolu Agency reported that the air-defense system as well as other military equipment, which were recently deployed in the base, were destroyed as result of the airstrikes.
“The [attack] didn’t result in any human losses, it targeted some of the base’s equipment, which were recently brought to reinforce the base, including an air-defense system,” the Anadolu Agency quoted the unnamed source as saying.
While the Turkish news agency claimed that the airstrikes led to no casualties, local Libyan sources reported that several ambulances were seen rushing to the air base after the attack.
According to the Libyan National Army (LNA), which claimed responsibility for the airstrikes, a MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air-defense system and a KORAL electronic warfare system were completely destroyed.
Twitter account OSINT Editor shared a satellite image showing al-Watiya Air Base after the airstrikes. Unfortunately, the areas southeast and southwest of the air base, where the Hawk system was stationed, were both blocked by clouds.
— OSINT Editor – Community powered (@osinteditor) July 5, 2020
Some Libya sources claimed that Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who started a surprise visit to Libya two days ago, was present in al-Watiya when the airstrikes took place on July 5 morning. However, this has not been confirmed, yet.
Activists supporting the Government of National Accord (GNA) claimed that the airstrikes were not carried out by the LNA, but by Mirage 2000-9 warplanes of the UAE Air Force. According to the activists’ claims, the warplanes took off from Egypt’s Sidi Barrani Air Base.
The GNA, whose forces captured al-Watiya from the LNA on May 18, was triggered by the airstrikes. Salah al-Namrush, a spokesman for the government, vowed that a response to the attack would be given at the “right time and the right place.”
The aerial attack on al-Watiya Air Base was well-planned and executed. The attack may have been carried out by the allies of the LNA. Turkey, which received a major blow, will likely try to respond very soon. This could lead to a new escalation in Libya.