American dudes with rifles make a quick stop in Libya and no one knows why

A U.S. Air Force C-146A landed unannounced (and apparently uninvited) at Libya’s al-Watiyeh airbase last weekend. The numbers on the airplane that landed at the base Southwest of Tripoli match with craft assigned to the 524th Special Operations Squadron. Once on the ground, it dispatched a number of personnel, presumably American special operators.

Libya Special Operators

The team of armed men wearing civilian clothes deplaned after 6am on December 14, 2015 without any cooperation from local authorities, which is why they were asked to take off. Their arrival had just enough time for the Libyan Air Force to broadcast them on social media.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 2.03.20 PM

The visit comes at a crucial time in Libya’s post-Qaddafi history. Factions of fractured Libya formed coalitions, militias and legislatures to claim legitimacy as the true head of government. One faction is Islamist-based and controls the traditional capital of Tripoli. The other is the democratically-elected, internationally-recognized government with the support of the Libyan Army, based in Tobruk. The two have been fighting since 2014.

The same week the U.S. special forces landed at al-Watiyeh, the two factions signed a UN-brokered peace accord to form a unity government while ISIS launched their own “Islamic police force” in the Libyan city of Sirte. Sirte is a former stronghold of support for deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s regime. The elected government will control the air base in the UN deal.

Aviation enthusiasts tracked the plane’s entire journey, and then tweeted it.

Magma30 flight Tracking

The purpose of the short layover is not yet known. The plane is part of the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of unassuming special-ops planes with civilian call signs. (The Air Force has 17 of these.)  According to Inquisitr, when the Libyan Air Force personnel asked the assumed special forces members why they were there, the soldiers replied that they were part of a larger operation held “in coordination with other members of the Libyan army.” The forces were turned away anyway.

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