Libyan National Army shoots down Turkish drone near al-Watiya airbase

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The Libyan National Army (LNA) said it has shot down a Turkish drone close to the al-Watiya airbase southwest of the capital, according to an official statement.

The al-Watiya airbase in southwestern Tripoli has been the source of fierce clashes in recent days between the LNA led by General Khalifa Haftar and militias loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) backed by Turkey.

Earlier on Tuesday, the LNA said it repelled a ground assault on the base by the GNA, leaving many dead.

The LNA initially declared a pause in operations as part of a ceasefire initiative on April 30 on the occasion of Ramadan, which was rejected by the GNA hours later.

“The Libyan army has inflicted on the reconciliation forces more than 40 people dead and dozens of wounded, and arrested some of them," the LNA’s War Information Division said on its official accounts on social media.

Turkey, along with several countries, met in Berlin on January 19 in which all participants agreed to respect an existing UN arms embargo to Libya and support efforts toward a lasting ceasefire in the country. The Berlin summit had gathered top officials from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Turkey as well as western countries such as the United States, France, Britain, and the European Union.

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The UN-recognized GNA led by Fayez al-Sarraj has been fighting a civil war against an alternative government based in the eastern city of Benghazi whose forces are led by General Haftar.

Sarraj relies on a plethora of militias, including Islamist and terrorist groups, formed in and after the 2011 uprising against longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
General Haftar launched an offensive to capture the Libyan capital of Tripoli in April vowing to end the rule of militias that include hardline groups linked to Al Qaeda and others. General Haftar has reportedly received support from international allies opposed to extremism and the Muslim Brotherhood.