Fighters allied with the UN-recognized government in Libya’s capital said they have received armored vehicles and “quality weapons” — possibly provided by Turkey — despite a UN arms embargo on the country.
A Facebook page linked to the Tripoli government posted photos on Saturday appearing to show more than a dozen armored vehicles arriving in port, without saying who supplied them. Supporters of the various militias allied with the government said the vehicles, which resemble Turkish-made Kirpi armored vehicles, were supplied by Turkey.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last month his government would stand by Tripoli authorities as they repel an offensive launched by Khalifa Hifter’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).
The battle for the Libyan capital has threatened to ignite a civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The UN Security Council imposed an open-ended arms embargo on Libya in February of the same year.
Fathi Bashagha, the interior minister for the Tripoli-based government, also visited Turkey in late April to activate “security and defense agreements” between the two governments.
The offensive on Tripoli was launched on April 4 by the LNA, which controls the country’s eastern half.
Hifter, who in recent years has been battling Islamic extremists and other militias across eastern Libya, says he is determined to restore stability to the North African country. His opponents view him as an aspiring autocrat and fear a return to one-man rule. He has received support from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.