Air traffic monitoring websites have reported the arrival of cargo planes from Russia and Syria at a Libyan airbase operated by the United Arab Emirates. The reports coincide with accusations made by a former UN envoy that the international body is being hypocritical in its handling of the Libyan crisis.
According to Al Jazeera on Thursday, the Radar Box website said that a Ilyushin-76 cargo plane belonging to the Syrian regime left Damascus on Monday heading for Latakia on the Mediterranean coast and then on to Egypt. It was not, apparently, picked up by radar after reaching Alexandria.
The FlightAir website, which also monitors air traffic, posted images of the aircraft's flight path after it entered Egyptian airspace. It headed for the Khadem Airbase in Libya, which is operated by the UAE in support of the forces led by renegade Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The same aircraft reappeared on Tuesday to the west of Alexandria as it was leaving Egypt to return to Syria.
The site also detected a similar Russian cargo plane which departed from Moscow and headed for the Hmeimim Airbase in Latakia, Syria. It too then headed for Egypt and on to Libya. Although no longer picked up by radar once it crossed the Libyan border, it was also reported to be going to the Khadem Airbase.
Meanwhile, former UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salameh said in an interview with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue on Wednesday that the UN is "being hypocritical" in dealing with the Libyan crisis. He pointed out that the majority of UN Security Council members supported Haftar in his attack on the Libyan capital Tripoli over a year ago.
"The day that Haftar attacked Tripoli," explained Salameh, "he received support from the majority of the members of the Security Council, while we [the Security Council] were criticised by the media for being unable to stop him."
Officially, the UN backs the Government of National Accord in Tripoli. Haftar has been trying to take the capital and overthrow the GNA.