The Africa Report: How the US & Turkey agreed to share a captured Russian defence system

However, Russia seems unfazed

According to “The Africa Report”, the USA agreed to share the secrets of the Russian anti-aircraft weapons system they always wanted to get their hands on. Here is what the report says:

When militias allied to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli stormed Khalifa Haftar’s Al-Watiya air base in western Libya on 18 May 2020, they captured a valuable prize – a Russian-built Pantsir missile defence system.

The capture of the Pantsir battery offered access to key intelligence about Russia’s military technology. It also triggered a tussle between Turkey and the United States about which country would take custody of this high-value kit.

In Libya’s civil war, Turkey is backing the Tripoli-based government while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russian mercenaries are backing Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had launched an offensive against the national capital.

Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones had destroyed about a dozen Pantsir batteries used by Haftar’s forces. But until the militias overran Al-Watiya, about 125km south-west of Tripoli, the pro-GNA forces had never captured one intact.

The Pantsir, delivered by the UAE to Haftar’s forces, was carted off to Zawiya, west of Tripoli, where it fell into the hands of the notorious militia commander Mohamed Bahroun. Known as ‘the Rat’, Bahroun is wanted by the government’s prosecutor and is suspected of links to Islamic State fighters and smugglers.

International struggle

Ankara’s allies on the ground quickly claimed the Pantsir, and it was sent to Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, where Turkish troops seized control of it.

Over the next couple of weeks, an international struggle played out over the spoils. The United States had ordered an operation to extract the Pantsir, fearing the sophisticated missile system could fall into the hands of extremists.

Turkey, keen to study the Pantsir in detail, insisted it should take custody of it. Both sought to sway the Libyan government into siding with them.

Finally, they reached a deal. US forces would extract the Pantsir using one of their air force cargo planes then deliver it to Turkey, where both sides could jointly study the Russian system, officials with knowledge of the talks told The Africa Report.

Read more: The Africa Report

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