EXCLUSIVE: Israeli military ‘secretly training' Libya’s Haftar militias in street warfare

EXCLUSIVE: Israeli military ‘secretly training' Libya’s Haftar militias in street warfare
Haftar’s LNA has been covertly receiving street warfare training from Israeli specialists in Libya, coordinated by Egypt in order to improve tactics to capture Tripoli, according to various sources.
3 min read
07 December, 2019
LNA forces loyal to Haftar patrol Sebha, the biggest city in southern Libya [Getty]
Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar has been secretly meeting with Israeli intelligence officials, resulting in the Israeli military training militias loyal to Haftar in “street warfare”, Libyan and Egyptian sources have revealed to The New Arab’s Arabic-language service.

A security cooperation agreement between the two sides gave rise to Egypt coordinating the transfer of specialised Israeli officers to Haftar-controlled territories in Libya to carry out the training in August and September of 2019.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army and its allied tribes, militias and mercenaries are currently locked in a battle to capture the capital Tripoli and defeat the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez Sarraj.

While the LNA and the eastern Libyan government are backed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France and Russia, the Tripoli-based GNA is supported by Italy, Turkey and Qatar.

Read more: It’s time for the ICC to indict Haftar for war crimes

The sources point out that Israel’s involvement came as Haftar’s forces pushed forward to the outskirts of Tripoli, and required a change of tactics in order to lead a street warfare campaign. 

The Israeli military and its intelligence arms are highly specialised in street warfare, having waged many battles in densely populated Palestinian refugee camps, in which many guerrilla movement have arisen.

The sources added that the meetings between Haftar and Israeli officials were the first of their kind to be held on Libyan territory.

Haftar is known to have been secretly meeting with the Israeli government and its intelligence agency Mossad in meeting mediated by the UAE. One such meeting in the summer of 2018 led to Israel agreeing to supply weapons, including sniper rifles and night vision equipment, to Haftar’s LNA. 

Libya is currently under a UN arms embargo, which does not seem to be being enforced as both Haftar and the internationally-recognised government continue to receive weapons.

Haftar and his allied forces are based primarily in eastern Libya and have been waging a campaign to take the capital Tripoli from the GNA since April this year.

The ensuing conflict has resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 people, injured close to 6,000 and forced 120,000 people from their homes, according to UN figures.

Evidence for Haftar's complicity in war crimes are mounting. Amnesty have reported that the rogue general's forces have engaged in indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as residential areas and medical facilities. 

Reports of the latest meeting come after Egyptian diplomatic sources revealed that Abdullah al-Thani, the head of Libya’s eastern Haftar-affiliated government held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Tuesday.

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Al-Thani reportedly met with the head of the Egypt’s General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel, and the Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, discussing how to counter the Sarraj government’s latest security and economic agreements with Turkey, which Egypt has vociferously opposed. 

The move comes amid reports that Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia are launching a bid to revive LNA’s momentum by withdrawing the Arab, African and Islamic World’s recognition of the UN-backed and GNA-led Presidential Council in Libya, instead recognising Haftar and his Tobruk-based parliament as the legitimate government.

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