Russian-backed Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar’s air force will launch what is says are unprecedented strikes on Turkish targets in the North African country, signaling a possible escalation after a week of setbacks in the war against the Turkish-backed government in Tripoli.
The announcement came as Fathi Bashagha, the security chief of Haftar’s rivals in the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli, told Bloomberg at least eight Soviet-era jets have arrived in the east from a Russian airbase in Syria, possibly to assist in any new aerial campaign.
Haftar’s forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russian mercenaries, launched the war to take the capital more than a year ago, making inroads in Tripoli’s suburbs. Turkish military intervention, however, has turned the tide in the battle for the OPEC member state, forcing Haftar’s troops to withdraw from a strategic airbase this week and to announce a partial withdrawal from the frontlines in Tripoli.
The defeats were accompanied by a Turkish armed drone campaign that targeted Russian-made Pantsir air defense systems. One of the batteries was captured intact and paraded in Tripoli on Wednesday.
Read more: Bloomberg