In what is astoundingly awkward and embarrassing timing, pro-Haftar LNA forces besieging Tripoli have now admitted they ‘mistakenly’ shot down a US military drone over the Libyan capital last week.
The incident occurred just as Trump admin officials were holding an unprecedented series of meetings with an official representing Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s political team named Aref al-Nayed even though Washington still gives official recognition to the UN-backed GNA government in Tripoli (Trump began praising Haftar, however, last April).
Over the weekend US Africa Command (AFRICOM) stated in a press release that an unarmed, likely a surveillance drone was lost over Tripoli last Thursday [Nov. 21]. However at the time it remained a mystery as to how the some $16 million drone was downed, with the Pentagon giving very few details other than to say the incident remains under investigation.
And now mystery solved:
A senior official in the LNA’s general command said they mistook the U.S. drone for a Turkish-made drone used by the Tripoli-allied militias. The LNA also downed an Italian drone southeast of Tripoli in recent days.
Pro-Haftar forces have essentially imposed a ‘No Fly Zone’ over Tripoli as their air power, which includes Russian MiG fighters and their own drone arsenal, is considered superior to that the the besieged Government of National Accord.
According to the Associated Press the LNA apologized for downing the American drone and has “agreed with the Americans to coordinate their operations over Tripoli and its surrounding areas to avoid similar incidents in the future.”
“The LNA fighters did not share photographs of the U.S. drone online as they usually do when they shoot down drones, including the Italian one last week,” another official was quoted by the AP as saying.
Oil-rich Libya was thrown into civil war nearly a decade ago when NATO forces overthrew Moammar Gadhafi. It’s been another great blunder in Western military forces who’ve spent the last several decades crusading around the Middle East, sparking wars across the continent.
The latest outbreak of fighting has been based in Tripoli. Since about 2015, Libya has seen its government splintered into two, one based in Tripoli and the other in the country’s east. The eastern government forces have been attempting to recapture Tripoli since April, and fierce fighting in the capital continues into the late year.
The other embarrassing contradiction in this latest drone shoot down incident is that Khalifa Haftar holds American citizenship (after his over two decades in exile in D.C. during the latter part of Gadhafi’s rule). So basically a dual US citizen is commanding forces that just shot down a US drone.