By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli/Tunis, 16 December 2014:
Zintani forces claim today to have captured a senior Libya Dawn commander near Abu Khammash, . . .[restrict]scene of Sunday’s clashes and currently in the hands of Libya Dawn forces. An official at the Zintan Operations Room (ZOR) named the commander as Musa Al-Housh Zayed Al-Rahal. The ZOR official also claimed that there had been three Libya National Army (LNA) airstrikes today around Zuwara and near Zultan. The latter town is supposedly under LNA control.
There has been no confirmation of the airstrikes or the capture of the commander.
In a potentially more significant development, the ZOR also claims that two new fighter planes have been flown to Wattiya airbase, south of Al-Jmail. If true it would double the military aircraft available to the LNA to strike at its opponents.
It is also the first time that the Zintanis have publicly admitted using the massive airbase. For over a month, despite the widespread suspicion that it was being used as the base for the LNA air force in the west as well as accusations to that effect by Libya Dawn, the Zintanis constantly claimed that the airport was unusable and that aircraft were flying from an airstrip in Zintan.
Given that the Zintan airstrip is not much more than a sandy track, suitably only for light aircraft, that was clearly not true.
The ZOR commander also declared that as a result of the new aircraft, “Misrata will be targeted within hours”.
This is not the first time that such threats have been made.
Meanwhile, an LNA official in Beida yesterday told the Libya Herald that four new Sukhoi jet fighter aircraft had been delivered by the Russians to Tobruk. They were not fully assembled, he said, and it would be several days before they would be used.
Again, there has been no confirmation either from Moscow or the government in Beida.
The aircraft may be the four Su-30MK2s which were part of a $1.6-billion contract signed by the Qaddafi regime at the beginning of 2010. It also included 14 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter planes, 6 Yak-130s and other armaments. Russia lifted its arms embargo on Libya in May 2012.
The two LNA aircraft operating at present out of Wattiya are also Sukhois, but reportedly were provided by the Egyptians. [/restrict]