re posted from Presstv.com
West in contact with, supporting renegade general in Libya: Report
Western countries involved in aerial operations in Libya have been coordinating airstrikes with renegade General Khalifa Haftar despite his opposition to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in the North African country, a report says.
The report, by the Middle East Eye (MEE), cited leaked recordings that it said showed a multinational operation center involving the US, Britain and France supporting Haftar from a base near the eastern city of Benghazi to help him gain control of eastern Libya.
The recordings, reportedly obtained by the MEE, belonged to the Benina air base, which is viewed as Haftar’s major military facility.
Haftar was an ally of Libya’s long-time dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. He, however, joined the Libyan revolution against Gaddafi in 2011.
He has refused to profess allegiance to the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli and has even been fighting against some groups that have been involved in an alleged foreign-backed campaign against Daesh Takfiris in Libya.
In 2014, Haftar launched the so-called Operation Dignity to retake the strategic city of Benghazi from militants. He claimed to have liberated Benghazi earlier this year but violence still continues in the city.
The recordings, the MEE said, feature pilots and air traffic controllers speaking in English and Arabic, and at least one strike was heard being coordinated with Haftar’s men.
“Benghazi, good morning, Ascot 9908. Ascot 9908, just letting you know we are in contact with Benghazi airfield,” a man with a British accent was heard saying in the tape.
“Ascot 9908 with you again from Benina, we’re looking to pick up a flight plan route from Lima Golf Sierra Alpha,” another man responded.
“That’s Ascot 9908, we are complete at Benina and next destination is Lima Golf Sierra Alpha,” the man with the British accent added.
People with French and Italian accents were also heard speaking. They were directing air traffic from the control room. Pilots with American accents and a number of Arabic voices were also recorded in the tapes.
In one tape, an Arabic-speaking pilot said, “The first target has been interacted with.” The target was in Souq al-Hout, or the Fish Market, that was a major area of fighting between Haftar’s supporters and other militants.
Haftar has previously been accused of having links to the US spy agency, the CIA, and of planning to become the country’s president.
Oil-rich Libya had had two rival administrations since mid-2014, when militants overran the capital, Tripoli, and forced the parliament to flee to the country’s remote east.
The two governments achieved a consensus on forming the GNA last December, after months of UN-brokered talks to restore order to the country.
However, the GNA has had difficulty taking over as fighting continues among a plethora of militia groups in the country.