Al-Mismari: Mitiga Airport is a Turkish Military Base that Threatens the Armed Forces and Civilians – Al Marsad

Spokesperson for the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Major General Ahmed Al-Mismari, said that there is no Libyan institution operating under the Skhirat Political Agreement, noting that participation in negotiations on this agreement was in response to the calls of the international community.

(Libya, 12 May 2020) – Al-Mismari, in an interview with the Russian agency Sputnik yesterday, stated: “The Skhirat Agreement did not enter into force. We have not recognized it from the beginning. No Libyan institution works according to the outcome of this political agreement. The Libyan people and the House of Representatives (HOR) have brought this agreement down.”

On participation in the negotiations, he said: “The negotiations were not with the Political Presidential Council, but rather in response to the call of friends to go along with the international community. Therefore, we went to Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Paris, Palermo, and Berlin in response to international calls.”

“We made it clear to everyone that the conflict in Libya is not political but rather a security struggle against terrorists, takfiris, and extremists,” he said.

The spokesperson of the Libyan National Army (LNA) said that the military forces consider the Mitiga Airport in Tripoli a Turkish military airbase, and therefore target it because it constitutes a threat to the army and civilians, pointing out that the condemnation statements issued by the United Nations after targeting the airport indicate that it is biased to the terrorists.

The Libyan National Army

“When we talk about Mitiga, we are talking about an airbase in the region. Second, we have not bombed any neighbourhoods at all and we adhere to the rules of engagement set by the General Command, but we must know that Mitiga is an airbase that formerly belonged to the Libyan Air Force and now it is the headquarters of the Turkish Air Force and artillery where dozens of drones take off every day. It also receives civilian and military aircraft carrying weapons, equipment, and mercenaries, and has become a military airbase for the Turkish occupation.”

Al-Mismari added: “We targeted this base because it turned into a threat not only to the Libyan armed forces but to civilians in Tripoli. This base is bombing civilian neighbourhoods, so we targeted a military base.”

He pointed out, “We have instructions to use the most powerful firepower available to end the battle in Tripoli while preserving civilian lives.”

In response to the condemnation statements issued by the United Nations on the bombing of the airport, Al-Mismari said: “We hoped the United Nations would condemn the serious violations against the people of Tripoli and the residents of the western region. We also expected the United Nations to condemn bringing in thousands of mercenaries through Mitiga airport from Syria through Turkey. We were waiting for it to condemn the breach of the arms embargo in Libya that Turkey is now doing. The United Nations looks with one eye only to the Libyan crisis, and it has not recognized and will not recognize the truth of the crisis. In this way, all its paths will lead to failure.”

The Libyan National Army

He continued: “We are accustomed to the United Nations’ statements that are always biased towards the Muslim Brotherhood, the terrorists, and takfiris, to prolong the crisis in Libya.”

Commenting on the statement of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Al-Mismari said: “What have Turkish forces been doing in Libya? Since 2014, have they provided roses? I think this statement is a threat to use another type of weapon that might be the naval battleships and fighter planes to develop military equipment. However, the Turkish forces are on the ground, and we have killed many of them in Tripoli, including officers and soldiers. Their weapons are in Tripoli.”

Al-Mismari added: “The Turkish infantry forces are now on the ground. The change may be in the air force using combat aircraft. We will address the situation if this happens.”

The details of the interview are as follows:

Q: How do you see the international condemnation statements regarding the bombing of the airport and some neighborhoods in Tripoli?

A: When we talk about Mitiga, we are talking about an airbase in the region. Second, we have not bombed any neighborhoods at all and we adhere to the rules of engagement set by the General Command, but we must know that Mitiga is an airbase that formerly belonged to the Libyan Air Force and now it is the headquarters of the Turkish air force and artillery where dozens of drones take off every day. It also receives civilian and military aircraft carrying weapons, equipment, and mercenaries, and has become a military airbase for the Turkish occupation.

We targeted this base because it turned into a threat not only to the Libyan armed forces but to civilians in Tripoli. This base is bombing civilian neighborhoods, so we targeted a military base.

We hoped that the United Nations would issue a statement denouncing the bombing of civilians and merchants in the Tatnai area. We hoped the United Nations would condemn the serious violations against the people of Tripoli and the residents of the western region. We also expected the United Nations to condemn bringing in thousands of mercenaries through Mitiga airport from Syria through Turkey. We were waiting for it to condemn the breach of the arms embargo in Libya that Turkey is now doing. The United Nations looks with one eye only to the Libyan crisis, and it has not recognized and will not recognize the truth of the crisis. In this way, all its paths will lead to failure.

Q: How do you explain the condemnation statements of the United Nations?

A: We are accustomed to the United Nations’ statements that are always biased towards the Muslim Brotherhood, the terrorists, and takfiris, to prolong the crisis in Libya. The recent statement is not an exception and will not be the last.

Q: Why is this bias by the United Nations?

A: I don’t know. It may not be the United Nations mission but rather a mission of specific countries that want to make sanctuaries for terrorists in Libya.

Q: Is the Commander-in-Chief still insisting on canceling the Skhirat Agreement?

A: The Skhirat Agreement did not enter into force. We have not recognized it from the beginning. No Libyan institution works according to the outcome of this political agreement. The Libyan people and the House of Representatives (H)R) have brought this agreement down.

The Libyan National Army

Q: However, you were part of the negotiation at some point?

The negotiations were not with the Political Presidential Council, but rather in response to the call of friends to go along with the international community. Therefore, we went to Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Paris, Palermo, and Berlin in response to international calls. We made it clear to everyone that the conflict in Libya is not political but rather a security struggle against terrorists, against takfiris and extremists.

Q: What will happen to mercenaries after their arrest, and what are the procedures followed?

A: The recognized procedures: they will be taken out of the combat areas first, the wounded will be treated, and then they will be transferred to special military police prisons for terrorists, takfiris, and others. They, they shall be subject to a thorough investigation, and security files will be prepared. So far, the General Command does not know whether it will communicate with the Syrian side to extradite them or put them to internal trial in Libya. These things will be clear after the investigation.

Q: What is your estimate for the number of the Syrian or Turkish mercenaries? Have you captured Turks on the battlefield?

A: We did not see Turks, but we saw many Syrians who arrived in Benghazi. A group of Syrians is now communicating with the armed forces to get out of the battlefield and these are not treated as arrested (prisoners of war) and can be handed over to the Red Cross.

Q: What about the numbers of Syrian mercenaries?

A: The Syrian Observatory estimates there are about 11,000 but in reality, the number is much higher than that. If we take elements that are not affiliated with Erdogan’s Syrian National Army, other elements follow Al-Nusra Front and ISIS (banned in Russia) and other terrorist organizations. They may be 11,000 of the Syrian National Army, but the total number may reach 17,000.

Q: What is your estimate of the numbers of those captured on the battlefield?

A: There are no fixed numbers, as there are stages to the transfer the terrorists and prisoners from one place to another. However, the numbers are large, especially since there were 16 prisoners in one day, so the numbers are very large.

Q: Are all mercenaries from Syria?

A: All of them are Syrians, from northern Syria, mostly from Homs and Idlib, from Syrian Turkmen. There are also prisoners from other regions close to northern Syria.

Q: Can you tell us about the course of the battles in Tripoli?

A: We gave a humanitarian truce to enable the state to combat the coronavirus pandemic, but the militias did not stop the fighting. We stopped the battle and declared a ceasefire a second time, on the occasion of the blessed month of Ramadan, but the militias rejected this also in an official statement. The battle continues until this hour and yesterday there was a very strong battle. Now, fierce battles take place in the neighborhoods of Tripoli.

The Libyan National Army

Q: May you tell us about the army’s advance in Tripoli?

A: The important thing is not the advance in the capital but the elimination of terrorists and the takfiri extremists. We have been doing this so far. We terminated a militia in Misrata. Eliminating the largest number outside the city is much better than eliminating them inside the city. Indeed, yesterday the forces made good progress in the Al-Aziziyyah-Al-Heera axis, Al-Sawani axis, Al-Hadhaba-Abu Salim project, Saladin axis, and Al-Hadhaba-Al-Qasi axis, all of which see new advances now. Yes, we have detected militias withdrawing their weapons from these areas into Tripoli. Certainly, every day we are moving forward with slow but steady progress.

Q: What about the GNA’s use of drones and the impact on the advance of the LNA?

A: Certainly, it has a big impact especially when it is used heavily. We are now in the Tripoli area, the no-fly zone the air defense controls and it is excellent. The Air Force cannot carry out any bombing in the no-fly zone. The region that is suffering now is Al-Watiyah because it does not have a modern air defense, and therefore it relies on old means. However, sometimes, we manage to shut drones down. However, the enemy now uses drones from more than one airport and more than one region as the main weapon, which has a very big impact, disrupting the battle and prolonging the battle in Tripoli.

Q: Why did not the drones stop despite the bombing of airports?

A: Because there is more than one site. They have major sites and backup sites, for example, the Misrata Airport. They have runways inside another city because drones do not need long runways. There are runways south of the city … in Kabau area far west, Nalut area, Zuwarah area, and Al-Hammad al-Hamra area. They also use oil companies’ runways.

Q: Are there new instructions or plans to end the battle in Tripoli?

A: Certainly, now that all attempts to impose a humanitarian truce have failed, instructions have been given to apply the most powerful firepower available, while preserving the lives of civilians. This is the challenge before us now: how to preserve civilian lives while using full force. We will need very strong experience while working on implementing these orders. We deal with all hotspots, whether east or south of Misrata, Tripoli, or western region as one battle and consider all of them one front. Therefore, we manoeuvre to transfer the fire and transfer the battles from site to site.

Q: What about the influence of the GNA’s militia in the cities of Sabratha and Surman?

A: It has no effect, given that we have not previously occupied or controlled these areas. The residents of these areas decided to go to the interim government and HOR and defect from Al-Sarraj. Therefore, they formed a protection force, which was a very simple one. However, it withdrew against the Turkish attack because it used battleships, drones, armoured vehicles, Turkish soldiers, and Syrian mercenaries. Consequently, this an entirely local operation, not an operation of the armed forces. However, when they reached Al-Watiyah, there were the armed forces, which repelled the attack more than three times within three months.

Q: How do you see the statements of the Turkish Foreign Ministry considering Haftar’s Forces as targets if they continue their attacks on the Turkish sites?

A: What have Turkish forces been doing in Libya? Since 2014, have they provided roses? I think this statement is a threat to use another type of weapon that might be the naval battleships and fighter planes to develop military equipment. However, the Turkish forces are on the ground, and we have killed many of them in Tripoli, including officers and soldiers. Their weapons are in Tripoli.

Q: After this announcement, do you expect full-fledged military operations by the air force, infantry, and other forces?

A: The Turkish infantry forces are now on the ground. The change may be in the air force using combat aircraft. We will address the situation if this happens.

 

© Al Marsad English (2020)