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Sat, 14 Dec 2019 17:48 GMT

LNA Intensive Air Strikes on GNA’s Militias Hastens Its Tripoli Takeover

Counterterrorism & Security

Marwa Mashaly

Tue, 12 Nov 2019 20:56 GMT

The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched new strikes on armed militias backed by Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) during the last 72 hours in various areas. The intensive deployment and strikes have been reported to announce the imminent takeover of Tripoli by the LNA after more than five months of fighting.

The LNA’s military operation to liberate Tripoli aims to guarantee a degree of security in the country suffering a high toll of fatalities due to the ongoing civil war started in 2014. And, most importantly, it aims to stop the terrorist militias infiltration into the country and to contain foreign interference that triggers many internal issues.

The Media Centre of Al Karama Operations Room of the LNA said the army launched intensive air strikes on a number of GNA forces’ positions in Zattarneh, Ghout Al-Rumman, Tajoura and Al-Sawani in Tripoli suburbs. LNA air force bombed a weapons and ammunition depot on Thursday in the Karimiya area in the outskirts of Tripoli, where a video taken by eyewitnesses showed black smoke rising from explosions as a result of targeting the depot next to the Investment Market. The LNA continues to launch air and ground strikes on GNA forces’ positions, used as ammunition, weapons and machinery depots.

The LNA stressed more than once that it would not hesitate to target any suspicious sites or movements that threaten the security and safety of its forces, pointing out that all strikes are carried out based on the receipt of intelligence from within the positions of the forces allied with GNA.

The LNA’s Karama operations media centre reported that more than 30 militants were killed and captured in an ambush of the army forces during an operation in Saladin axis, south of the capital. Clashes erupted near al-Hadabah project, which the media centre described as militias’ “desperate attempts” to advance or hold their positions. A statement issued by the army said that the air force targeted a site of militias inside the camp of Abu Muath in Gharyan city, and a second strike targeted the “Ghout al-Reeh” area, which is about 80 km (50 miles) south of Tripoli.

Haftar confirmed, through the army media arm, that the LNA did not and will not target the civilian section of Mitiga airbase in Tripoli. He explained in a video that the military section will be a legitimate target for LNA air force fighters, until the end of the threat coming from it.

The LNA said that the media supporting the armed militias backed by GNA is always working to convey a false picture of the targets being hit by the LNA Air Force inside Mitiga military base, noting that it often tries to promote that LNA Air Forces target the civilian section within this military base.

LNA Spokesman, General Ahmed al-Mesmari, said in a press release published on his official Facebook page today, Tuesday November 12th, that Haftar met two days ago with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, at the LNA headquarters in al-Rajma east of Benghazi, according to an LNA spokesman. The visit came within the framework of continuous consultation between the LNA Commander and the UN envoy on the latest developments in Libya. Salamé briefed Marshal Haftar on the outcome of the talks on the upcoming Berlin conference in December.

Haftar underlined the important role of the UN mission and its envoy to Libya, as well as the statements of the LNA General Command related to New York and Berlin meetings, that they represent the LNA’s position on the need to eliminate terrorist groups and dismantle and disarm the militias, according to the spokesman.

The LNA Commander also stressed the need to create a legitimate authority acceptable to the Libyan people and based on a constitutional basis. The visit was very positive in the context of brainstorming, exchanging views and assisting the Mission in carrying out its work in the national interest of Libya, al-Mesmari concluded.

Despite a UN arms embargo, a UN panel of experts found foreign interference in Libya was “even more blatant” than before, including the possible use of foreign mercenaries and operators of foreign supplied drones, according to news reports.

The presence of so many outside forces in Libya’s conflict, with different and obscure agendas, needs to be discussed and resolved. The UN’s Libyan envoy Ghassan Salamé intends to invite these external forces, as well as the Libyan combatants, to a conference which he and the German government are planning for later this year. Salamé told The New York Times that if external players were removed from the equation, the Libyans themselves could resolve the conflict.

Middle East