UN experts say Libya airstrike Probably tied to Hifter allies

U.N. Specialists say it’s “highly probable” a deadly airstrike on a migrant detention Centre in Libya was Completed with a fighter jet operated by a government supporting Khalifa Hifter, who launched an offensive in April Attempting to Shoot Tripoli

U.N. experts say it’s “highly probable” a deadly airstrike on a migrant detention centre in Libya was completed by a fighter jet operated by a government behind Khalifa Hifter, who started an offensive in April trying to capture the capital, Tripoli.

The panel of experts said in a report on the U.N. Security Council it “reserves identification of this member state until further physical evidence or imagery emerges to increase attribution confidence levels.”

The July 3 night assault on the detention centre in Tajoura near Tripoli murdered over 50 people and wounded over 130 others. U.N. human rights leader Michelle Bachelet has said the attack could amount to a war crime.

The panel, which monitors sanctions against Libya, said it “continues to investigate the circumstances of the airstrikes.”

The report’s findings and summary on the Tajoura assault were seen late Friday by The Associated Press.

Migrants and asylum seekers “remain vulnerable not only to the effects of the conflict, but to abuse” in government detention facilities, including “degrading living conditions, repeated extortion, sexual and other exploitation, and torture,” the report stated.

Libya became a major crossing point for migrants to Europe following the overthrow and death of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, once the North African country was thrown into chaos, armed militias proliferated and central authority fell.

The nation was split, with a feeble U.N.-supported government in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Hifter, a former Libyan army general. Each facet is backed by a range of militias and armed groups fighting over resources and land.

Hifter launched the surprise military offensive on April 4 aimed at Tripoli, with assistance from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Russia. But he has faced stiff resistance from fighters tasked with the U.N.-recognized authorities, which can be aided by Turkey and Qatar.

The assault on Tajoura was among the deadliest since the battle began.

The panel said it’s “independent evidence from a reliable confidential source that an unknown number of Mirage 2000-9” fighter jets were utilizing the al-Khadim air base in southern Libya and the Jufra foundation in the north-central portion of the country in the time of the Tajoura attack.

Hifter’s forces do not have such complex aircraft, the panel stated.

It stated the Mirage 2000-9 can operate at night and deliver precision-guided munitions and missiles.

“Therefore, the panel finds it highly probable that the airstrike was conducted using PGM (precision-guided munitions) at night by a modern FGA (fighter ground attack) aircraft owned and operated by a member state, acting in support of the HAF (Hifter armed forces),” the report stated.

While no country was named, the UAE has a fleet of Mirage 2000-9 fighter jets, which can be made by France’s Dassault Aviation. In November 2017, the UAE armed forces announced plans to upgrade the fleet.

In terms of Hifter’s offensive, the U.N. specialists said it’s stalled reforms and sparked a new phase of instability in Libya.

The experts also said both sides in the conflict have obtained weapons and military equipment, technical assistance and “non-Libyan fighters” in breach of a U.N. arms embargo.

“Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied weapons, with little effort to disguise the source,” the report stated. “The panel also identified the presence of Chadian and Sudanese armed groups in support of forces affiliated” to either side.

However, the panel included, “in reality the impact of the foreign armed groups to outcomes in the conflict was limited.”

“Neither side has the military capability to effectively decide the outcome to their advantage,” the report stated. “Consequently, fatalities among armed groups and civilians remain low.”

The Security Council’s 15-member committee monitoring sanctions against Libya is expected to discuss the report at the end of the month, and diplomats said in may be released in December.

UN experts say Libya airstrike Probably tied to Hifter allies - us-canada

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