TRIPOLI, Libya

A Libyan military airstrike Saturday destroyed the air defense system of warlord Khalifa Haftar on the Al-Watiya airbase southwest of the capital.

The strike destroyed the Russian-made Pantsir type system that was recently supplied by the United Arab Emirates, according to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) spokesman Mohammed Qanunu.

Al-Watiya is regarded as a key airbase and is second only to Mitiga Airport. It was captured in August 2014 by Haftar, the leader of illegally armed forces in eastern Libya, who used it as his headquarters for western operations.

The airstrike came as a part of operations to cut supplies to Haftar’s militias.

Haftar intensified attacks on civilians since the beginning of May as the Libyan army recently gained the advantage and inflicted severe losses on his militants.

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 Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

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