Libya government planes strike key Haftar airbase

Khalifa Haftar
Khalifa Haftar
Image: LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

Libya's UN-recognised government said its forces struck a desert airbase Friday that has been a key staging post for the transport of troops and supplies by eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Since April, the government has been battling an offensive against the capital by Haftar's forces, who already control most of the far-flung oases and oilfields of the desert south as well as their eastern stronghold.

"The air force struck a gathering of mercenaries at the Al-Jufra base, destroying a hangar for drones belonging to a hostile country," on Friday night, government forces said on Facebook.

They said they also destroyed a munitions depot and hit an Ilyushin Il-76 military transport aircraft.

Pro-Haftar television channel Libya Al-Hadath confirmed the base had been attacked but gave no details.

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army said it carried out air strikes of its own against multiple targets in third city Misrata, from which many of the government's best equipped and most seasoned fighters are drawn.

Since government forces weathered the initial assault by Haftar's forces, the front lines have remained largely static, with both sides resorting to strikes using aircraft supplied by their foreign supporters to span the large distances between populated centres.

Turkey and Qatar have been the main supporters of the government, while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have backed Haftar.

Despite repeated appeals by UN mediators, major powers have shown no sign they are ready to enforce an increasingly threadbare arms embargo on the North African country.

Nearly 1,100 people have been killed and more than 5,750 wounded since the Tripoli offensive began, according to World Health Organization figures. More than 100,000 civilians have fled their homes.

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