A team from Anadolu Agency toured the strategic Al-Watiya airbase, which had been occupied by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias and was retaken by the Libyan Army early Monday. 

The base was liberated in a very short time after an operation was launched in the morning, said Colonel Mohammad Dava from the army’s Western Operations Department.

Libyan army retakes key Al-Watiya airbase from warlord Haftar

He noted that a Russian-made Pantsir air defense system was seized from the militias and will be moved to a Libyan government base.

Soldiers of the Libyan Army took a photo in front of the Pantsir air defense system, which had been supplied by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the militias.

Members of the press were taken to the base after a security check.

Many unusable military vehicles, vans and aircraft in hangars that were destroyed during the army’s air strikes with unmanned aerial vehicles were displayed.

The victory was announced by the media office of the government-led Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) Operation, citing Osama al-Juwaili, the commander of Operation Peace Storm.

Al-Watiya is seen as a key airbase, second only to Mitiga Airport. It was captured in 2014 by Haftar, the leader of illegally armed forces in eastern Libya, who used it as his headquarters for attacks on the legitimate government. 

The government has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. It launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital.

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political deal.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

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