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Yemen or Libya? Six Emirati soldiers 'mysteriously' die in action

The UAE military has been involved in several conflicts in the Middle East [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 September, 2019

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On Saturday the UAE announced six of its soldiers had been killed in Yemen in a vehicle collision, however, the Libyan government says they were killed in Libya.
Conflicting reports have emerged concerning the death of six United Arab Emirates soldiers on Friday, after Libyan authorities dismissed reports from Abu Dhabi.

On Friday, the UAE announced that six of its soldiers were killed “while they were carrying out duties in the field of operations” as a result of an accident involving two armoured vehicles, without specifying in which country the incident took place.

Just a day later, the official UAE news agency WAM said the soldiers had been killed in Yemen while “defending the Yemeni people against a gang who had rebelled against the legitimate authorities”.

The UAE, alongside Saudi Arabia, is spearheading the coalition battling Houthi rebels in Ymen, but has recently stirred trouble for their support of separatist militias in the south which have fought against the internationally recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

However, other reports published on Friday said that the six soldiers were killed in Libya, not in Yemen as announced by the UAE.

Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) announced that it had destroyed the operations room of rogue General Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army at the Jafra Air Base, killing six foreign soldiers during the operation.

The GNA did not specify the nationalities of the foreign soldiers but the UAE has been a key backer of General Haftar, who launched a deadly assault on the Libyan capital Tripoli earlier this year.

A statement by the GNA’s “Volcano of Anger” forces, who are engaged in a counterattack against Haftar said, “Libyan air forces targeted the main operations room at the Jafra air base, which foreign officers from an aggressor regional state were operating. It was completely destroyed and the six officers were killed”. 

One Twitter user, Fares Abu Jarmal, said that one of the Emirati officers killed in the attack on the Jafra air base was Saeed Al-Mansouri, who had been in Libya since 2013.

The Jafra air base had been used to launch drones and reconnaissance flights, and had received shipments of arms from abroad to Khalifa Haftar.

Last week, the Libyan government condemned the UAE for hosting a “hostile” press conference by Ahmed Mesmari, Khalifa Haftar’s spokesman, in which he called for more attacks on Tripoli. 

The UAE has been actively supporting counter-revolutionary and authoritarian individuals and movements throughout the Arab world ever since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.

On Saturday, an airport near the Libyan capital was hit by a new round of rocket fire and airstrikes, the UN-recognised government said, two weeks after it was closed due to repeated attacks. 

The Government of National Accord accused forces loyal to eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar of being behind Saturday's attacks on Mitiga airport, but did not report any casualties.

An airstrike by "Emirati drones" hit the airport early Saturday morning, followed by "Grad rockets launched by (pro-Haftar) militia", the GNA said on Facebook. 

The former military airbase had been Tripoli's sole functioning airport until a rocket attack on September 1 wounded four civilians including three pilgrims returning from Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the latest in a string of similar incidents.

The Tripoli government is backed by Turkey and Qatar, while Haftar enjoys support from Egypt, the UAE, and RussiaFrance has also reportedly aided Haftar’s forces.

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