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Libya: How the US and Turkey agreed to share a captured Russian defence system

By Samer Al-Atrush
Posted on Thursday, 25 February 2021 19:47

Russian Pantsir-SA missile and artillery weapon systems drive during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia 24 June 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

When militias allied to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli stormed Khalifa Haftar’s Al-Watiya air base in western Libya on 18 May 2020, they captured a valuable prize – a Russian-built Pantsir missile defence system.

The capture of the Pantsir battery offered access to key intelligence about Russia’s military technology. It also triggered a tussle between Turkey and the United States about which country would take custody of this high-value kit.

In Libya’s civil war, Turkey is backing the Tripoli-based government while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russian mercenaries are backing Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had launched an offensive against the national capital.