An unarmed Italian Air Force Reaper drone had crashed in an area of Libya marked by fighting in the country’s civil conflict. The Italian embassy confirmed Libyan media reports and photographs that one of its drones had ‘‘crashed’’ in Libyan territory on November 21st, 2019. This was confirmed after reports of the incident began to circulate on the internet on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. The Italian military general staff confirmed that “contact was lost with an Italian Air Force drone, which subsequently crashed in Libyan territory.” Furthermore, the general also added, “the drone was following a flight plan previously communicated to Libyan authorities,”
The online reports out of Libya originally asserted the aircraft was a Turkish drone operating on behalf of forces loyal to UN-recognized leader Fayez al-Sarraj. It was shot by forces fighting with General Khalifa Haftar. Also, the reports stated that the drone had been located near Tarhuna, about 65 km southwest of the capital Tripoli. “An investigation is underway to establish the cause of the event,” said the Italian general staff.
The Mare Sicuro Operation
‘‘Today (21 November) a remotely piloted aircraft Predator of the Italian Air Force, which was carrying out a mission to support the ‘‘Mare Sicuro’’ operation, cashed in Libyan territory. The causes of the event are being assessed’’, the Italian statement concluded. Mare Sicuro is an Italian mission to monitor human trafficking in the Mediterranean.
Both the upgraded Predator A drones as well as Reapers, all unarmed are operated by Italy. Furthermore, the Italian drone that crashed was flying in the middle of a drone war currently being waged between Haftar and Al-Sarraj’s forces.
The incident is currently under investigation. Moreover, the shooting down of drones has become common since April 4, in the war of Tripoli when the Khalifa Hafter-led forces attacked the capital.
There is an increase in the participation in the Tripoli’s aerial wars. UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame has referred to increased foreign interference in Libyan affairs in his reports to the UN Security Council. Thereby, he has also called for a unified stance by the international community on their foreign policy towards Libya.