CAIRO: The Libyan Air Force has bombed an armed convoy of suspected Turkish-backed mercenaries affiliated with Fayez Al-Sarraj, prime minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in Wadi Bey area west of the city of Sirte, close to the so-called “red line” drawn by Egypt.
Libyan sources said that the group, backed by Turkish mercenaries, was trying to infiltrate the city, but that it had been destroyed, without providing details on the numbers involved or of casualties.
Official authorities did not comment on any operations targeting Wadi Bey, which is considered a strategic point given its proximity to Sirte and Al-Jufra on the northwestern edge of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) defense line.
The airstrike came a day after the Coastal Defense Forces targeted a boat, which infiltrated the maritime interdiction before the Ra’s Lanuf coast.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had claimed in an earlier speech: “Sirte and Al-Jufra are considered a red line for Egypt’s security. We will not allow anyone to come near it.”
He added: “Libya will be defended only by its people and we will support them.”
The significance of Sirte lies in its location, which is 1,000 kilometers from the Egyptian border, between the Libyan capital Tripoli and Benghazi on the coast.
Controlling Sirte would open the way for controlling oil ports in the western area known as the Oil Crescent, which contains the country’s biggest oil inventory.
The strategically significant Al-Jufra Airbase lies south of Sirte, meanwhile, and is only separated from it by a 300 kilometer road.
Al-Jufra is one of Libya’s biggest airbases, known for its recently stengthened infrastructure to host state-of-the-art weaponry. It also serves as a major operation room for the LNA.
Meanwhile, LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mesmari said that Turkey had not halted its transfer of military equipment and mercenaries into Libya.
Al-Mesmari added in an interview with Sky News Arabia that Ankara had taken over “a number of camps in the west (of Libya). Such camps are under the direct commandment of Turkish officers.”
Al-Mesamri added that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not care about the arms embargo imposed on Libya, and stressed that Ankara was continuing to transfer weapons into Libya.