Renewed French air strikes on Chadians fleeing southern Libya – Al Marsad

Libya, 6 February 2019 – French fighter planes have again bombed a column of Chadian opposition forces that had crossed from Libya into Chad. The latest airstrike, in north east Chad, took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the AFPnews agency, quoting the French army.

On Sunday, two French air force Mirage 2000 jets hit a Chadian opposition column that had crossed the border. It is not clear if the latest strikes targeted remnants of that convoy. Following the first attack it was reported that a number of vehicles targeted had managed to escape. However, a statement today suggests that second convoy may also have come from Libya. According to French army, the action of jets, based in the Chadian capital N’Djamena and supported by a drone, had resulted in 20 out of the 50 vehicles in the column being destroyed.

Sunday’s column was said to have had 40 vehicles.

Like Sunday’s attack, the latest strikes were requested by the Chadian government and occurred in coordination with the Chadian army, the French said.

The opposition fighters, thought to be members of the CCMSR movement that wants to topple the government of President Idriss Deby, are fleeing their previous safe haven in southern Libya because of the arrival there of Libyan National Army forces, intent on securing and cleansing the area of terrorists and foreign fighters. However, a spokesman for another Chadian opposition group, the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) claimed yesterday, Tuesday that its forces were moving in the area of the strikes.

Meanwhile, at a press conference in Benghazi on Tuesday, LNA spokesman Brigadier Ahmed al-Mismari again asserted a Qatar link to the Chadian fighters that have been operating in southern Libya.

“The leader of the Chadian opposition, Timan Erdimi is conducting the military operations from Qatar,” he said.

Erdemi, who is Deby’s nephew, heads the UFR, but there has been a growing convergence of action between it and the CCMSR. His name is among those of 31 Chadians and Sudanese on the wanted list issued by the attorney general at the beginning of January, and which also includes Abdulhakim Belhaj and former oil blockader Ibrahim Jadhran.

There have been reports of Qatari military aircraft landing at the abandoned airstrip at Wath with straddles the Libyan-Chadian border, some 750 kilometres south east of Sebha. According to a source, three aircraft have landed in the past four months, bringing weapons and military equipment as well as cash. These, according to the source, were not just for Ardemi’s men, but also for fighters with Jadhran and the Benghazi Defence Brigades said to be in the area.  Jadhran himself is said to be in Chad.

It has not yet been possible to verify or dismiss the reports.