The capture of Al-Watiya — a turning point in the Libyan war?

In Libya, after a month of storming, the Al-Watiya airbase, controlled by the rebel forces of General Haftar, was liberated today by the forces of the «Volcano of Rage», under the control of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

After a short delay, the rebels acknowledged the loss of this strategic object, stating that they themselves withdrew their forces from it. They did so in an odd way, leaving behind a variety of equipment on the base, from ordinary pickup trucks and rocket launchers to an MI-35 helicopter, a MiG-21 fighter, and a Pantsir-S1 air defense system.

In addition to the capture of a Pantsir-S1, another rebel Pantsir-S1 was destroyed by government forces on the Sirte-Al-Jufrah highway, bringing their losses of this strategic weapon to three in two weeks.

It has also become known that the government forces will soon be replenished with similar weapons — under a contract signed late last year, the Ukrainian state company «Ukrspecexport» has supplied Turkey with two S-125M1 «Pechora-M1» air defense systems, which will be handed over to the GNA.

All in all, what is happening in Libya can be described as a turning point in the course of hostilities. After the defeat of Haftar’s group on the coast, even pro-Haftar analysts now acknowledge that the rebel leader’s plans and promises to take Tripoli now appear illusory.

At the same time, the GNA forces, with Turkey’s backing, have been given the opportunity to expand their successes in pushing the rebels into the desert regions, including using the newly acquired base for the transfer of new weapons and forces from Turkey into Libya.

All this, as we have written before, forces each side of the conflict and the conflict as a whole to decide — are they ready for a serious ceasefire backed by real guarantees and the opening of a political settlement process, or will they fight to the bitter end? In the latter case, Haftar’s chances do not look good at the moment.

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