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Tue, 21 Jan 2020 20:36 GMT

LNA’s Advance on Tripoli Thwarts Isis Militia Support for GNA

Counterterrorism & Security

7Dnews London

Fri, 08 Nov 2019 14:38 GMT

The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced an advance in the battle to seize control of the capital, Tripoli, from militias backed by the Government of National Accord (GNA) after nearly five months of fighting. The imminent takeover of the capital by the Libyan National Army is expected to guarantee a degree of stability in the country suffering from civil war since 2014, and international interference. It also aims to stop the terrorist militias infiltrating the country.   

Operation Flood of Dignity is a military campaign by the Libyan National Army to capture the capital, Tripoli, held by the GNA, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, backed by armed militias linked to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group, al-Qaeda affiliates, and Isis foreign fighters who have infiltrated Libya from the southern border.

 The Libyan National Army (LNA), announced that its forces have advanced in South Tripoli and taken control of Azizia town, 40 km south of the capital. The Media Centre of LNA’s Dignity Operations Room issued a statement stating that the forces took control of the Az-Zahraa Brigade after liberating Azizia, following heavy clashes in the region.

 The Military Information Division of the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced that support detachments of Brigade 106 and the 166th Infantry Battalion moved to join the rest of the military units in the battle for Tripoli. A video released by the Military Information Division on Sunday night, November 3rd showed the movement of military units belonging to the Libyan National Army joining the fighting for Tripoli.

On November 3rd The LNA carried out an air strike on weapons depots and facilities in the military section of Mitiga airport, which were used by armed groups to store equipment and Turkish missile drones, said the LNA Military Information Division. The strike was the result of a collaboration between the intelligence services and reconnaissance by the LNA. A statement by the media centre of the LNA’s Dignity Operations Room said the “militias are beginning to collapse on various fronts after painful and accurate airstrikes and advances near their bases.”

 The President of the Libyan House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, has called on the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, to reconsider the continuation and legitimacy of the GNA’s Presidential Council of Libya and its head, Al-Sarraj. Saleh said the entity has no constitutional or legal basis, as the period allocated to it in the political agreement and constitutional declaration ended in 2015. He also condemned the fact that Al-Sarraj is unilaterally making decisions and issuing decrees, which violate the political accord agreed by the Presidential Council of Libya.

Earlier this month, the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Military Information Division said a member of the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC), Saad al-Tira (aka Abu al-Zubair), was fighting on the southern frontline among anti-LNA forces. Tira is thought to have been one of the founding members of the DMSC in December 2014 who fled Derna in late 2015. It has been alleged he fought alongside extremist elements against the LNA in Derna and Benghazi.

LNA spokesperson, General Ahmed al-Mesmari, had reiterated on many previous occasions that, “we are fighting terrorists on behalf of the world in Libya,” showing the devastating situation in south western towns in Libya, especially in Murzuq and the Fezzan region. The LNA spokesperson was not exaggerating when he referred to what is happening in Libya as a fight against the major international terrorist groups in the world today.

The south of Libya has been destroyed by the armed militias linked to the GNA, known also as Tripoli's government, that has failed to unify Libya since 2016 and chosen to collaborate with hundreds of foreign armed terrorists to reclaim its authority over the country. This has left Libya with severe political and tribal conflicts in an on-going civil war since 2014.

The Combating Terrorism Centre (CTC) is an academic institution at the United States Military Academy in West Point, USA and has provided an extended study on the recovery of Isis in the south of Libya, enabling it to wage a war of attrition that seeks to obstruct the formation of a Libyan state.

Lachlan Wilson, a security expert and director of Eye on Isis in Libya (EOIL), a platform monitoring the group’s history in Libya, stated that in 2019 the group has been waging high-profile attacks on symbolic state institutions. It has targeted Tripoli and undertaken attacks involving suicide bombers. Attacks targeted the Libyan Foreign Ministry, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC). "By attacking these institutions, Isis appears to be attempting to unsettle foreign assistance, to weaken Libya’s recovering oil sector (upon which the whole economy depends), and to disrupt elections." Wilson said.

Jason Pack is president of the Libya Analysis platform and is the author of ‘The Origins and Evolution of ISIS in Libya’. He said that, "as a result of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) on-going campaign to ‘liberate’ southern Libya from terrorists and to reopen its oil fields, Isis has intensified its campaign in the desert." “It undertakes hit-and-run attacks in formations ranging in size from half a dozen to two dozen fighters," Pack said.

According to the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), non-Libyans make up almost 80% of Isis fighters in Libya. The group appears to have become more disconnected from Isis's core in Iraq and Syria, both in terms of personnel and command-and-control. This may be due to either the death or arrest of senior leaders in the group with ties to the 'Levant' or Syria.

On October 26th, US AFRICOM Director of Public Affairs, Colonel Chris Karns, told Voice of America that the four US airstrikes in Libya this year had killed 25% of the remaining Isis fighters in the country.

Middle East