By Moutaz Mathi and Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli/Tunis, 21 October 2016:
Claims by Zintan’s Abubakr Al-Sadiq Brigade that Italian troops are at Jufra airbase have been dismissed by Italy. “It is absolute nonsense,” an Italian oficial told the Libya Herald.
In statement yesterday, the brigade declared that it would “not stay idly by and will face any invader with all our might,” adding “we call all Libyans to stay united and prepare to fight the new Italian invasion of our land.”.
It is not clear how the Zintanis came to the conclusion that Italian forces were at the airbase, located between Hun and Waddan, and locates 600 km eastern south east of Tripoli. They have no presence there.
During the Qaddafi era the base was the second most important airbase in the country but it was then severly damaged during the revolution by NATO air strikes. Following the revolution, it was controlled by Misrata’s Third Force. More recently, it was claimed that Benghazi militant Ziyad Belam had been using it as a base for himself and his followers.
The Libyan National Army (LNA) has tried to take it over on more than one occassion but with without success.
A small group of Italian forces – the figure is put at 200 – are, however, present in Misrata protecting the new field hospital order sent by the Italian government to treat Bunyan Marsus soldiers wounded in the fighting IS in Sirte.