ROME – Italy says it does not plan to intervene in military problems in Libya, but images published on social networks suggest that the Mediterranean country sends arms to the African nation.
Currently, Italy’s military presence in Libya is a contingent of approximately 400 people who are part of the Bilateral Assistance and Support Mission in Libya (MIASIT), which aims to provide humanitarian aid and provide technical support to the Libyan Coast Guard.
Recently, photographs of ships of the Libyan Coast Guard turned into battle ships with weapons appeared on social networks. These ships had been donated by Italy to Libya to patrol and intervene in a search and rescue zone. The machine guns in the bow had been removed before their delivery, since the boats did not have a military destiny and also because Libya has an international arms embargo.
⛔️? La Guardia costiera in #Libia e i salvataggi a colpi di mitra.
Secondo chi le ha diffuse, queste foto mostrerebbero la LCG di #Tripoli.
— Matteo Villa (@emmevilla) April 20, 2019
Some days before the publication of the photos on social networks, Italian media reported that an unusual military operation had taken place on the island of Lampedusa at dawn on April 17. In this, according to local media, participated two of the three ships of the San Giorgio class of the Italian Navy, a patrol helicopter and a plane of the local unit of the Air Force of the detachment Lampedusa.
Giacomo Sferlazzo was a witness of the operation
“In the afternoon, we saw a military plane arrive at the airport, military vehicles unloaded wooden crates from the plane, during the night a transfer of the crates was carried out at the dock of Cala Pisana to a military ship of the transport type with personnel. The military and, after boarding these boxes, left, we assume they are weapons or technologies that were then taken to Libya, although we can not know for sure,” Sferlazzo said.
The witness said it is the first time he sees an operation like this in Lampedusa, although military aircraft had already carried out operations in the region before.