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Libya: Flight data places mysterious planes in Haftar territory

Two Russian-made Ilyushin 76 aircraft made several trips between Egypt, Israel, and Jordan before landing at air bases controlled by Haftar [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera Arabic investigation tracks suspicious cargo flights into military bases controlled by Khalifa Haftar.

Cargo planes were discovered flying clandestinely into bases controlled by renegade Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar and dropping off unidentifed payloads at the time his forces attacked Tripoli last month, an Al Jazeera Arabic TV investigation found.

Satellite images and flight data show two Russian-made Ilyushin 76 aircraft registered to a joint Emirati-Kazakh company called Reem Travel made several trips between Egypt, Israel, and Jordanbefore landing at military bases controlled by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) in early April, just as it attempted to seize the capital.

Flight transponders appear to have been turned off while flying into the war-torn North African country. Libya is currently under an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations after years of fighting. 

Video published by Haftar’s forces shows one of the cargo planes – with the registration number UP-I7645 – after landing at LNA’s Tamanhant military base in southern Libya. It had taken off from Benghazi in the east, Haftar’s stronghold. 

Crates marked from Al Bayda city were delivered by the IL-76 plane [Screengrab via YouTube]

Wooden crates stamped in black with “FF” followed by four digits and “gross weight 64kg” are seen being unloaded by a forklift at a landing strip in the Libyan desert. All crates had the city name Al Bayda marked on them. 

“With the tracking of the number, we detected a suspicious course of the aircraft that circulates almost regularly between Jordan, Israel and Egypt prior to its appearance in Libya, as shown by the air navigation and surveillance technology ADS-B,” the investigation said.

Bill Law, an analyst with the online magazine Gulf Matters, said the report highlights how the eight-year conflict is quickly expanding.

“What we’re seeing are lots of players coming into Libya. It’s a recipe that’s almost heading to a Yemen scenario. We’re beginning to see a proxy war emerging. We’re looking at a pretty bleak situation. In this situation of a vacuum, you see players emerge and we’re seeing this now,” Law toldGIFTALWORLD.