Libya’s GNA protests French warplane’s unauthorised overflight

Foreign ministry of UN-recognised government says French Rafale jet, tanker aircraft were spotted over Misrata.

53rd International Paris Air Show
The Rafale and a refuelling aircraft had flown over Misrata and Abu Grein, a combat zone further east [File: Anadolu]

Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has protested over what it said was an unauthorised flight over territory under its control by a French-built Rafale warplane.

The Rafale and a refuelling aircraft flew over Misrata, 200 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli, and Abu Grein, a combat zone further east, the GNA’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. 

“The French foreign ministry indicated to us that it would contact the French defence ministry and give us details,” the GNA said.

The oil-rich North African nation has been mired in conflict since the 2011 overthrow of longtime ruler Muammar Gadaffi, with rival administrations in the east and west vying for power.

In April 2019, Haftar –  who controls much of eastern Libya –  launched an offensive to seize Tripoli.

His military campaign was stalled by troops loyal to the GNA, who after launching a counteroffensive in mid-April, expelled Haftar’s forces from several strategic western cities. 

While Paris officially backs efforts for a peaceful solution to the conflict, analysts say it has often acted in support of Haftar.

Shortly after Haftar announced his offensive, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj accused France of supporting a “dictator”.

“When [French President] Emmanuel Macron called me, I warned him that public opinion was against France. We don’t want Libyans to hate France. France still has a positive and important role to play,” al-Sarraj said at the time.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies