Libyan airspace being ‘frequently violated’

Forces allied to recently revived government say they detected reoccurring violation by cargo planes carrying arms.

Bitter clashes have been raging for months between militias supporting two rival governments in Libya [AFP]

The Libyan armed forces allied to the recently revived government says it has detected a reoccurring violation of its airspace by cargo planes it said were carrying weapons to armed groups from Belarus.

In a statement, the chief of armed forces said that the planes were entering the airspace of embattled North African country through Egypt and other neighbouring countries.

It said that the aircraft carried weapons and ammunition to support the Qaqaa and the Sawaeq brigades, two of Libya’s most powerful militias allied to a rival government based in the east of the country.

In the statement, the armed forces loyal to the so-called National Salvation government based in the capital, Tripoli, threatened to shoot down such planes “without warning”.

The National Salvation government, which lost the June general elections, was reinstated by armed groups that seized the capital in August.

The internationally-backed government of Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni and the parliament that resulted from June elections were forced to operate in the eastern city of Tobruk near the border with Egypt.

A Supreme Court decision on Thursday ruled in favour of the Tripoli-based government, ordering Thinni’s government and the parliament be dissolved after deeming the elections unconstitutional.

Bitter clashes have been raging for months between rival militias supporting the two governments, leaving hundreds killed and thousands displaced.

The National Salvation government has repeatedly accused Egypt and United Arab Emirates of supporting Thinni and the armed militias allied to it.

The two countries have been also blamed for carrying out air strikes against militias bases in Tripoli.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are viewed as having a common goal in trying to contain or eradicate political Islam. The armed militias backing Thinni’s government are seen as secular, while those backing the leaders in Tripoli are seen as more religiously conservative. Cairo and Abu Dhabi have denied interfering in Libya.

But this is the first time Belarus’ alleged involvement came to light in the recent infighting.

There were reports that the Eastern European country had sent shipments of arms to Libya’s long term ruler Muammar Gaddafi in his fight against the once-united rebels before he was toppled in March 2011.

Source: Al Jazeera