Libya received military shipment from Belarus, claims EU arms watchdog

A plane landed at Sebha airport in the Libyan desert on 15 February just before the UN imposed an arms embargo, says Sipri

A leading arms trade watchdog suspects Libya received a shipment of military equipment from Belarus shortly before the UN imposed an arms embargo on the country.

An Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft left a military base near the Belarussian city of Baranovichi and landed at the Libyan desert airport of Sebha on 15 February, reported the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), an independent organisation which monitors arms trafficking for the EU.

It also says that a Libyan executive jet, a Falcon 900, flew to Belarus last week, possibly taking gold and diamonds.

"The Ilyushin came from a dedicated military base that only handles stockpiled weaponry and military equipment," Sipri's arms trafficking expert Hugh Griffiths said.

"Sebha is deep in the desert and was created by Gaddafi as his main military logistics base for his invasions of Chad in the 1980s.

"The tribe that controls the area around Sebha is still loyal to Gaddafi, he spent some of his formative years there, going to school."

He added: "Sebha could still be used as a jumping-off point for the movement of people or high-value commodities such as diamonds, gold out of Libya, either by executive jet, such as the aircraft which made the flights to Belarus late last week, or heavier items by cargo aircraft".

The Libyan government has a substantial number of Ilyushin Il-76s. Khamis Gadaffi, one of the Libyan leader's sons and commander of one of the country's special forces brigades, attended a large military exercise in Belarus two years ago.


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