Four Libyan fighters loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) were killed in a UAE drone strike south of the city of Misrata on Monday night, a GNA military spokesman said.The UAE is a key backer of rogue General Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled “Libyan National Army”, which in April 2019 began a deadly assault on the Libyan capital Tripoli.
Haftar’s forces have recently retreated in the face of GNA advances in western Libya, particularly around the capital.
The GNA spokesman, Mustafa Al-Maji, said that the strike occurred in the Abu Qarin area south of Misrata.
“The drone which targeted our forces at the Abu Qarin airbase was launched from the Al-Jufra airbase [in central Libya],” he said.
GNA aircraft on Monday targeted another airbase held by Haftar forces, the Al-Watiya base, 140 kilometres southwest of Tripoli.
Mohammed Qununu, another GNA military spokesman, said that fighter planes had launched six strikes against the base, targeting Haftar forces.
Last week the GNA launched an operation to take the Al-Watiya base, which is one of Haftar’s last remaining strongholds in western Libya. The base served as a major operations hub for Haftar’s 2019 assault on Tripoli.
Fighting has been on going around the base for the past week, while GNA forces killed the base’s commander, Usama Emsek, on 5 May.
The UN-recognised GNA has received crucial support from Turkey, which has recently threatened direct retaliation against Haftar’s forces after its embassy in Tripoli was targeted.
On Monday, the foreign ministers of the UAE, France, Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus issued a statement condemning Turkey’s military and maritime agreements with the GNA, saying they threaten “regional stability”.
They also demanded that the GNA adhere to a Ramadan truce offered by Haftar, which it previously rejected.
The UAE, France, and Egypt have all provided support to Haftar, while Greece and Cyprus were outraged by a November 2019 agreement delineating maritime boundaries between Turkey and Libya in the Mediterranean Sea. The countries claims that this agreement encroached on their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.