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The UN says 'foreign warplanes' carried out refugee massacre in Libya. They're probably Emirati Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

The UN says 'foreign warplanes' carried out refugee massacre in Libya. They're probably Emirati

The 53 deaths marked one of the worst massacres of the Libyan conflict. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 November, 2019

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No country is confirmed to have carried out the attack, but sources told BBC Arabic that the inquiry was focused on the UAE

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Libyan, UAE

United Nations weapons experts suspect that foreign fighter jets were behind precision strikes on a refugee holding camp in Libya, which killed at least 53 people, with the UAE being the chief suspect.

The deaths of the refugees held at the Libya detention centre, near Tripoli, marked one of the worst massacres of the country's civil war.

No country admitted to have carried out the attack, but sources told BBC Arabic that the inquiry was focused on the UAE.

A Libyan diplomat revealed to The New Arab’s Arabic language service that UN officials have evidence proving the participation of UAE-owned Chinese drones to bolster forces loyal to militia leader Khalifa Al-Haftar, south of Tripoli.

A source in the BBC report also said that "an unknown number of Mirage 2000-9" fighter jets were operating from Libyan air bases in Jufra and Al-Khadim at the time of the deadly strike.

"The UAE publicised a contract signed by Libya in 2012 to buy advanced warplanes in the Emirates but the Libyan side showed that this contract hadn't been implemented. However, the UAE sent the planes to the Al-Khadem base to support Haftar," the Libyan diplomat said.

He also said the of the head of Libyan National Army, rogue general Khalifa Haftar, was hindering the completion of the investigation.

The UN-backed government in Libya - which controls the capital, Tripoli and embroiled in a war with Haftar's forces - sent an official letter to China, demanding an investigation on the UAE links to the drones, the diplomat said.

The coordinates of migrant centres were shared with both sides in the war to assure their safety, the UN Special Mission in Libya told the BBC.

Those killed and injured in the attack are believed to have been sub-Saharan African migrants, who were on their way to Europe. They killing could amount to war crimes, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.

The UAE had been accused of carrying out the attack by the UN-backed Libyan government, whilst Hatar;s forces denied any involvement.

The UAE and Egypt, who have backed Haftar throughout the conflict in Libya, have yet to comment on the story.

"If there is concrete evidence of direct military intervention by outside countries, then that is totally unacceptable, and needs to be investigated at the most senior levels," said the former UK ambassador to Libya, Peter Millet, to the BBC.

Similar claims were made in a UN report published in 2017, that accused the UAE of similar violations of international arms embargo against Libya.

The UN said that the UAE had built an airbase in Al-Khadim which provided support for Haftar's forces.

The arms embargo on Libya was signed by the UAE in 2011, following signatures from the UK, US, France and Italy.

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