Bayraktar Killer Drones Run by Turkish Military Experts in Tripoli – EXCLUSIVE AL MARSAD REPORT – Al Marsad

In an exclusive report Al Marsad identifies a team of Turkish military experts working in the Operations Room of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, and who are responsible for operating the Turkish Bayraktar killer drones used in the raids against the Libyan National Army positions in Gharyan and Abu Rshada areas over the last few days. We provide here details on these Turkish specialists who are supporting Islamist militia units of the GNA. 

[Libya, 30 June 2019] – Al Marsad identified a team of Turkish military experts, including a high-level General, who work in an Operations Room for the Government of National Accord (GNA). General Irfan Tur Ozsert, who previously served in the command chain of the Turkish Military Academy, is among the GNA’s Turkish military team. He was also in charge of the Military Zone of Gaziantep, in the western part of Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Region. General Ozsert also held several positions in the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT), the National Intelligence Organization of Turkey. The military and intelligence team has come to Tripoli to work for the GNA.

A senior Libyan intelligence source said in an interview with Al Marsad that the Turkish military team includes specialists for running the technical aspects of the unmanned Turkish aerial drones of the Turkish Bayraktar killer brand, which launched intensive raids on the army positions in the vicinity of Gharyan, specifically in the Abou Rshada district last Wednesday.

Turkish Military Experts Commander, General Irfan Tur Ozsert, working for the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Taking into consideration that such type of sophisticated drones requires integrated Control and Operations Rooms, the Turkish Bayraktar killer drones have bombarded two main frontlines where the Libyan National Army (LNA) units are deployed. On Friday, they attacked LNA concentrations in al-Sebaiah and on Thursday they raided two areas of LNA units in both Khallat al-Furjan and Ain Zara.

Bayraktar Killer Drones: All in the Family

The killer drones are manufactured by Bayraktar, a company owned by the family of President Recep Erdogan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar, known as the “Godfather of Turkish Drones”. Selçuk Bayraktar married Erdogan’s daugher, Soumeyye in a lavish wedding in 2016. The alliance of both families have seen a number of lucrative government contracts and purchase of killers drones going to Bayrakat.

Erdogan speaking at the wedding of his daughter Sumeyye Erdogan to the defence industrialist Selçuk Bakraktar in 2016.

According to The Intercept, “Turkey now rivals the U.S. and the U.K. as the world’s most prolific user of killer drones, ” and it adds, “Turkey stands out as not only the most advanced new developer of drones but also as the only country to regularly use them on its own soil, against its own citizens.”

Although since 1975 the US had imposed weapons export sanctions after Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, yet Turkey has managed to defy US restrictions to become a leading manufacturer of killer drones for the second drone age. The implications for Turkey’s neighbours of the development of this technology are serious as we can see from its deployment in Libya, Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria. Recently the provocative moves by Turkey to conduct illegal drilling in Cypriot territorial waters is already escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over offshore energy reserves, and a growing sign of Erdogan’s expansionist ambitions.

A graphic illustrating the method of operating Bayraktar unmanned Turkish killer drones.

Our Libyan intelligence source revealed that the Turkish team is working from a location to the east of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as well as another unspecified location. The senior intelligence officer stressed that officials of the Government of National Accord (LNA), led by the Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, and the Commander of the Western Military Zone Osama Juwailli have visited the Turkish military experts’ headquarters in Tripoli several times.

The aftermath of a Turkish aerial bombardment in al-Sebaiah frontline on Friday

The aftermath of a Turkish aerial bombardment in al-Sebaiah frontline on Friday

The intelligence source also disclosed that the Turkish experts are actually leading the battle on the ground by providing intelligence information and carrying out reconnaissance missions in keeping with the movement of the forces of the Government of National Accord in addition to providing aerial support for its forces, pointing out that among this team are experts in communications, wiretapping and coordinates’ provision.

LNA General Command Air Force had previously raided two Turkish drones of the same brand last month. The two unmanned planes were destroyed at the military section of the Mitiga International Airport. Al Marsad received footage of a third, as well as a fourth drone, taking off from the Mitiga airbase for reconnaissance and bombardment mission.

Meanwhile, Libyan Post Telecommunications & Information Technology Company (LPTIC) was accused yesterday by the National Defense and Security Committee of the House of Representatives (HoR) of working for the benefit of the Turkish military experts in Tripoli by providing wiretapping access to the Turkish team. The committee accused LPTIC of turning into a “spy and wiretapping den for the Turks,” by taking advantage of its complete monopoly of Libya’s telecommunications sector.

The committee of the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) accused the Libyan Post Telecommunications & Information Technology Company (LPITC) or assisting the Turkish killer drone specialists against the Libyan National Army (LNA).

The team also includes at least three military experts from Pakistan (Muhammad Khurshid Ahmad, Muhammad Ashraf, and Abdul Haq) who had arrived in Tripoli earlier and were also recruited by the Presidential Council of the GNA. They were employed at one of the Operations Rooms run by the Turkish specialists. Al Marsad also obtained copies of their passport records.

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Turkish President, Recep Erdogan, previously acknowledged military support provided by his government to the GNA, saying that the GNA did not find its weapons supply needs elsewhere, so they resorted to Turkey, stressing that its work was to achieve what he called “a balance of power with the Haftar forces,” as well as the protection of Turkish interests.

Al Marsad received a copy of an internal memo issued by the Office of the Minister of the Interior, Fathi Bashagha, to the Immigration Authority. The memo demanded granting the Turkish team visa on arrival status to facilitate their entry into the country via Mitiga International Airport. The memo includes names and passport numbers of a Turkish team that arrived in Tripoli.

Memo issued by the Office of the Minister of the Interior, Fathi Bashagha, to the Immigration Authority to facilitate the entry of 5 Turkish experts to Tripoli.

Al Marsad also viewed footage of their arrival at their residence in one of the Tripoli’s high-end hotels. The team was carrying supplies and equipment.

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The following are the names of the Turkish specialists working under General Irfan Tur Ozsert at the GNA’s Operations Rooms in Tripoli:

  1. Bulent Kutsal
  2. Cinan Utku
  3. Izzettin Yesilyurt
  4. Kanal Emre
  5. Emir Muratli
  6. Levent Ergun
  7. Gursel Caypinar
  8. Srlcuk Yavuz
  9. Mehmet Husamettin Yucesoy
  10. Emirhan Karaoglu
  11. Fathi Dundar
  12. Deniz Pinar
  13. Irfan Ozsert
  14. Ilkay Cam
  15. Cemal Balikki
  16. Ilkay Altindag
  17. Goksel Kahya
  18. Can Sabitay
  19. Sahan Aydin
  20. Omer Akcilpunar
  21. Ercin Teoman
  22. Bekir Aydin
  23. Recep Yildirim
  24. Suleyman Anga

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Al Marsad contacted the Ministry of the Interior and its Office but did not receive any response to its request for comment on the presence of the Turkish military personnel in Tripoli.

Turkey is Complicit in the Massacre against POWs in Gharyan

Turkish Bayraktar killer drones were again in action in the offensive to recapture Gharyan from the LNA by supporting the criminal militias under the GNA. Furthermore, according to the Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesperson Ahmed Mismari Turkish forces intervened directly in Gharyan’s battle, adding that the army will show evidence to prove their involvement. 

Since the GNA rogue militias retook Gharyan three days ago, the militias killed over 40 LNA fighters POWs at Gharyan Hospital in what has been regarded as one of the most brutal massacres since the Brak El-Shati massacre by GNA militias in 2017.  The Libyan parliament declared three day’s mourning throughout the country for the victims of the massacre of the prisoners of war by the militias of Fayez al-Sarraj’s government. In a statement issues yesterday by the HoR, it said: “The Libyan House of Representatives declares the official mourning in the country three days to mourn the souls of those who have given the homeland their pure lives to provide the Libyan people with security and stability and free it from terrorism, extremism, and cowardly criminal gangs.”

The Libyan National Army (LNA) accused the forces of al-Sarraj government, based in Tripoli, of killing prisoners and the wounded of the LNA forces in the city of Gharyan. He said, “Forensic reports showed that the wounded at Gharyan Hospital were knifed, shot dead in the head or rammed by cars.” LNA Spokesperson, Ahmed Mismari said that “there were war crimes committed against the people of Gharyan and members of the Libyan armed forces.”

As a result of the support given by Turkey to the criminal militias under the GNA, and the unimpeded supply of drones, weapons, armoured vehicles, and technical assistance to the rogue GNA, the LNA said on Friday that it would ban any commercial flights from Libya to Turkey and Turkish ships from docking in the country. The economic implications to Turkish business, trade and employment in Eastern cities of Libya will also be a direct result of Erdogan’s actions in Libya. LNA media reports state that all Turkish restaurants have been closed in al-Bayda and Turkish workers are to be deported from the city. Orders have also been issued for the closure of all Turkish restaurants in Benghazi, Derna and LNA-controlled towns in western and southern Libya.

Erdogan told the news conference at the G20 summit yesterday that Turkey would pursue different actions and policies, in the event those threats by the LNA proved to be serious against Turkish interests.

Furthermore, Khaled Mishri, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood and head of the Consultative body, the High Council of State based in Tripoli, said in a statement: “Any acts of aggression or attacks against our friends [Turkey] are considered to be detrimental to our national security and will be vigorously confronted.”

Ghassan Salamé the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has yet to issue a condemnation of the massacre against the POWs in Gharyan. Some EU Ambassadors, such as the German Ambassador to Libya, Oliver Owcza, were insensitive in their official tweets on Gharyan and avoided any reference to the massacre. International Human Rights organisations are yet to issue a statement or call for an enquiry.

It is clear that the outcome of the decision by Erdogan to support the Muslim Brotherhood and their various rogue Islamist and UN Sanctioned militia leaders with weapons, equipment and expertise will have deep rooted repercussions in the way that Turkey will be viewed by Libyans not just in the immediate term but for any future relations between the two countries. As President Trump is pushing to issue an order that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, Erdogan’s Turkey, a NATO member, meanwhile is busy strengthening the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies in Libya and elsewhere.

© Al Marsad English. 2019.

Further Resources:

The following are the full copies of the passports of the Turkish military team working in the Tripoli Chamber:

Further reading on ongoing Turkish support for Islamist militias in Libya:

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