By Libya Herald staff.
10 November 2014:
Cargo planes violating Libyan airspace suspected . . .[restrict]of delivering weapons and ammunition to fighters in the west of Libya could be shot down without warning, the Chief of Staff under the Tripoli-based administration of Omar Al-Hassi has said.
According to the Libyan news agency LANA, which is also now operating under the Hassi administration, there has been a marked increase of transport planes overflying Libya and heading to the Jebel Nafusa, scene of ongoing clashes between members of the Libyan National Army and militia groups affiliated to the Libya Dawn movement.
Major-General Abdussalam Jadallah Al-Obeidi, sacked by the House of Representatives but still regarded as being in post as Chief of Staff by Hassi, claimed these planes were from Egypt and other neighbouring countries, and were delivering weapons and ammunition to the Zintan-based Sawaiq and Qaaqaa brigades. He claimed the planes had originated from Belarus.
These Zintan-based armed groups, which are now operating under the Libyan National Army, were intent on destabilising the security and stability of the country, he added.
Violating the sovereignty of Libya, such aircraft were also breaking national and international laws and conventions, Obeidi said. He warned that these aircraft would be considered as targets and could be fired upon without warning.
It is thought that the brief detention of an aircraft delivering aid from the UAE via Tobruk to the south-western town of Ghat yesterday was connected to this belief that foreign planes were delivering arms to groups opposed to the Hassi administration.
Obeidi’s statement is the latest accusation levelled at foreign aircraft alleged to be playing a role in Libya’s current conflicts, which some analysts are increasingly referring to as a “proxy war” being played out by Qatar and Turkey on the one side and the UAE and Egypt on the other.
His claims could also be in reaction to those made last week by the spokesman for Operation Dignity, which is now operating as part of the Libyan National Army. Mohamed Al-Hejazi claimed that a fifth delivery of weapons from either Qatar or Turkey had just been made to Misrata Airport. Both countries were supporting arming rebel elements in Libya, including Libya Dawn, he said.
Al-Obeidi has also vowed to build a strong army loyal to Libya and to God, that would protect the nation’s air, land and sea borders and “maintain the legitimacy of our institutions and the capabilities of the people”.