Turkey is making final preparations for the deployment of F-16 fighter jets in al-Watiya Air Base in western Libya, new satellite images revealed.
The images, which were shared by Twitter user Observer IL on December 10, revealed that two new aprons, each with marks for six aircraft, were painted on the eastern and western parts of the air base. Turkish troops are present in the air base, which is controlled by forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA).
#Libya – #AlWatiyah Airbase – Final preparations of #Turkish Air Force deployment. 2 new aprons painted on both sides of the runways. Marks on the ground indicate that the Airbase will accommodate at least 12 TAF F-16’s or other fighters. A-400m ATLAS Airlift or AAR ? #IMINT pic.twitter.com/LFLdOJfHDZ
— Observer IL (@Obs_IL) December 10, 2020
Earlier this year, a number of reports revealed that Turkey wants permanent military presence in Libya. Ankara plans to establish the air base in al-Watiya as well as a naval base in the port city of Misrata.
Turkish forces have been rehabilitation al-Watiya Air Base for several months now, with several sources talking about a plan to deploy F-16 fighter jets in the airbase.
In July, pinpoint strikes of the Libyan National Army destroyed a Turkish MIM-23 Hawk air-defense system that was deployed in al-Watiya Air Base. However, Turkey didn’t back down and replaced the destroyed air-defense system within a few days, demonstrating its determination to stay in the air base.
The deployment of Turkish F-16 fighter jets in al-Watiya Air Base, if it happens, will tip the balance of power in Libya in favor of the GNA. The Turkish military buildup in the war-torn country may soon lead to a new round of the escalation between the GNA and the Libyan National Army.
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