More Turkish-Made Drones Delivered to Misrata for the GNA – Al Marsad

Given the extensive losses by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) with the destruction of its fighter jets and Turkish-made Bayraktar drones inflicted by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the GNA has ordered more Turkish-made drones. According to this special Al Marsad report, some of the newly-ordered drones have already arrived in Misrata.

[Libya, 9 July] – Last Wednesday, the Air Force of the Libyan National Army (LNA) destroyed the main control room for the Turkish-made drones at Mitiga airbase in Tripoli, according to its spokesperson. In an exclusive report published recently by Al Marsad we revealed the names and details of the Turkish military operatives assisting with the drones in the Operations Room of the forces of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Yet given extensive losses inflicted by the LNA, the GNA has ordered more Turkish-made drones which several sources claim have already arrived in Misrata.

Tripoli-based GNA Seeking Turkish Help

It was reported by several media establishments a few days ago that Erdogan’s Turkish government was preparing to deliver 8 more of its Bayraktar TB-2 killer drones to the Tripoli-based and UN-backed Government of National Accord (LNA) in contravention of the UN arms embargo on Libya. According to Africa Intelligence, “the batch includes four drones which Turkey had already agreed to supply after a first request from the GNA for five of the unmanned aircraft.”

Last Friday, at an emergency visit to Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul by Fayez Sarraj, Erdogan affirmed support for the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). According to commentators, the Sarraj visit was aimed at soliciting military and financial assistance from Turkey to consolidate the GNA forces’s position against the Libyan National Army (LNA) in the wake of the latest successes of the Air Force of the General Command of the LNA. Turkey has agreed to continue the training of GNA forces.

In addition to requesting more Turkish-made killer drones, which Turkey had already pledged to send to the GNA, it has been reported that Sarraj was also looking for financial support from Erdogan as well as weapons and possibly a “Turkish contingent to protect the Libyan capital.”

A key report, based on the most recent UN Panel of Experts report, points to the Islamist Turkish government regularly shielding its companies from UN investigation for alleged arms and oil smuggling deals with the Tripoli-based government.

Turkish explosives and arms manufacturers cited in a United Nations probe, declined to respond to inquiries from the UN Panel of Experts that was investigating violations of UN sanctions on Libya. Violations of the UN-arms embargo by Turkey have been flagrant. According to the Turkish Analyst Abdullah Bozkurt, one of them most significant ones was: “the seizure of explosives, detonators and detonation cords on board the Tanzanian-flagged Andromeda in January 2018. It was alleged to be on its way to the Libyan port of Misrata and was seized by Greek authorities after it was spotted sailing with the vessel’s Automatic Identification System turned off. Turkish-based Orica-Nitro, the producer and distributor of the commercial explosives on the ship, contracted Armada Shipping, an Istanbul-based freight agent which in turn used a vessel owned by Andromeda Shipmanagement SA, a company registered in the Marshall Islands, to transport the explosives.”

Erdogan may not wish to commit to deploying a military contingent in Libya although he publicly supports Sarraj and previously admitted to supplying his troops with weapons despite the UN embargo. The Turkish government is concerned that such a deployment of its troops in Tripoli would make them a direct threat from the LNA Air Force and potentially also from the Egyptian Air Force in the event of such a deployment.

However, as Bloomberg reveals Turkey’s need to support the GNA is tied strategically to being able “to resume construction projects worth about $18 billion.” According to Bloomberg, two Turkish officials said, “restoring calm and keeping Sarraj’s government in place would also make it easier to demarcate maritime borders, helping Turkey expand its exclusive economic zones and strengthen its hand in the competition for control of energy resources and supply routes in the eastern Mediterranean.”

More Turkish-Made Killer Drones on the Way

Turkish twitter accounts have also been boasting of this latest purchase of Turkish-made killer drones. Although there has been no official confirmation from both the Turkish government and the the GNA, multiple inside sources confirm that the order has been made and that they were on the way to Tripoli and some in fact had already reached Libya.

According to several reports circulating on social media and military intelligence sites, new shipment of Turkish made killer drones arrived at Mitiga airbase on board of the II-76TD on the Ukrainian-based Sky Aviatrans’ ILYUSHIN II-76TD TD KTR7220. The strategic heavy lifter, II-76TD, conducted multiple sorties was said to take off from Ankara Esenboga International Airport to Mitiga International Airport in Libya, reportedly to deliver drones. However, as evidence shows the latest drone shipment did not land at Mitiga but at Misrata Airbase.

Assessing the Evidence

In order to confirm these reports, further investigations have been conducted to verify if the claims that Turkey has sent the drones shipment to Tripoli in contravention again of the UN embargo, or if these allegations were part of a campaign of disinformation against the GNA.

We can confirm the following:

1. Flight: The mentioned flight KTR7220, indicated in social media posts, was tracked from 03.07 to 06.07 between Turkey and Libya. It was operation by the Sky Aviatrans company is based in Kiev with its fleet of cargo located at Kryvyi Rih International Airport. CONFIRMED.

 

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2. The Route: The route Kryvyi Rih Lozuvatka in Ukraine, Turkey and Libya match with the use of the II-76TD asset to perform the “OUT-OF-THE-WAY” air cargo charter service provided by the mentioned company (Cargo to reach remote locations or hostile terrains). CONFIRMED

3. The II-76TD would have flown from Ukraine to Turkey to load the cargo and Misrata to deliver it. POSSIBLY TRUE

4. Origin: Social media reported that the II-76TD would have left Ankara Esenboga International Airport to Libya. The Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) company owns several facility and an airfield north-west of Ankara. The use of International Terminal might be linked. Some part of the flights over Turkey had the IFF blinded, most likely to conceal the real tracks. The Identification, friend or foe (IFF) is a radar-based identification system; it uses a transponder that listens for an interrogation signal and then sends a response consisting of a unique signal that identifies the broadcaster. It enables military and civilian air traffic control interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator. IFF may be used by both military and civilian aircraft. PARTIALLY CONFIRMED.

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5. Destination: On 06.07.2019 imagery confirmed the presence of a II-76TD in Misrata Airport (not Mitiga) with service/utilities vehicles operating in the area (see Image 9 below). CONFIRMED.

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Based on the above assessment we can conclude through a combination of multiple source reports (social, local, GNA) that the delivery of additional “drones” and/or military equipment to GNA forces by Turkey via Misrata Airport was made. We can also conclude the following:

  • During the past week, confirmed by flight tracks with origin and (likely) destination and the confirmed presence of the IL76- in Misrata, it indicates intense activity between the Libya and Turkey. CONFIRMED.
  • The activity is likely to continue and possibly increase in the short-term.

Misrata Airbase as Logistical Centre

As the satellite footage shows with the presence of the IL76TD at Misrata Airport we can safely assume that the new delivery of some of the Turkish-made killer drones has now been made.

In June this year Al Marsad had already alerted to the suspicious frequency of flights by the Ukraine Air Alliance (UAA) between various Turkish airports and Misrata containing unknown cargo. It was suspected then that these flights were supplying Turkish equipment and arms to GNA militias, and along with hardcore jihadi fighters from Idlib. 

The Libyan National Army (LNA) has accused Turkey of supporting militias, chaos and “terrorist groups” in Libya and ferrying arms to the country, and has threatened to target Turkish government assets and blocked flights from Turkey last week.

Meanwhile, the Misrata airbase continues to play a vital role in supplying logistics to the GNA militias and is regularly violating the UN-arms embargo.

The international community and its monitoring agencies are called upon to investigate these infringements, and the correct presence of additional Turkish-armed killer drones along with further shipments by Turkey via sea and air to the UN-backed GNA forces. Failure to do so, given that the Turkish President Erdogan has publicly and proudly boasted infringing the international arms embargo on Libya, calls into question the status of legitimacy conferred to the GNA by the UN and the international community.

© Al Marsad English. 2019

Further Resources

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

The Case of the Illegal Ukranian Flights from Turkey to Libya – SPECIAL REPORT