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Military Capabilities

LNA announces naval blockade of western Libya

23 May 2019
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BMC Kirpi II MRAPs are seen after being unloaded at Tripoli’s port in Libya on 18 May. The remotely controlled weapon stations are covered up, but are likely to be Aselsan SARPs, while the jamming antennas are folded to the rear. Source: Operation Volcano of Anger

The Libyan National Army (LNA) faction has announced it will impose a naval blockade on ports in west Libya to prevent any more shipments of military equipment reaching forces aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

The move was announced by LNA naval commander Faraj al-Mahdawi in a televised press briefing on 20 May. He said the LNA was mobilising its naval forces to impose a total blockade on western ports, especially regarding Turkish vessels.

The announcement was a response to the delivery of armoured vehicles from Turkey. GNA-aligned forces released photographs of more than a dozen BMC Kirpi II mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles at Tripoli port on 18 May.

"The GNA government supports its forces defending Tripoli with armour, ammunition, and qualitative weapons in preparation for an extensive operation being prepared to eliminate the outlaw militias of [LNA leader Khalifa] Haftar," said the media wing for Operation 'Volcano of Anger': the effort to resist the LNA's offensive.

Painted in the camouflage used by the Turkish army, the vehicles were fitted with remotely operated weapon stations that were under covers and did not have machine guns fitted. They also appeared to have radio frequency jamming systems of a type previously seen on Turkish army vehicles, as well as mounts for an optional shot-detection sensor.

The vehicles were delivered by the Ro-Ro cargo ship Amazon (IMO: 7702657), which stopped at İzmir, where there is a BMC factory that makes the Kirpi, before sailing directly to Tripoli, according to AIS tracking data.

Meanwhile, there were also claims that the LNA has received new types of armoured vehicles, with photographs circulating on social media showing an 8×8 Al-Mared and a 6×6 Mbombe that were purportedly in service with the predominantly eastern Libyan faction.

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