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Libyan conflict news and discussion

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LNA announces naval blockade of western Libya
Jeremy Binnie, London
23 May 2019


BMC Kirpi II MRAPs are seen after being unloaded at Tripoli’s port in Libya on 18 May. The remotely controlled weapon stations are covered up, but are likely to be Aselsan SARPs, while the jamming antennas are folded to the rear. Source: Operation Volcano of Anger

The Libyan National Army (LNA) faction has announced it will impose a naval blockade on ports in west Libya to prevent any more shipments of military equipment reaching forces aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

The move was announced by LNA naval commander Faraj al-Mahdawi in a televised press briefing on 20 May. He said the LNA was mobilising its naval forces to impose a total blockade on western ports, especially regarding Turkish vessels.

The announcement was a response to the delivery of armoured vehicles from Turkey. GNA-aligned forces released photographs of more than a dozen BMC Kirpi II mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles at Tripoli port on 18 May.

"The GNA government supports its forces defending Tripoli with armour, ammunition, and qualitative weapons in preparation for an extensive operation being prepared to eliminate the outlaw militias of [LNA leader Khalifa] Haftar," said the media wing for Operation 'Volcano of Anger': the effort to resist the LNA's offensive.

Painted in the camouflage used by the Turkish army, the vehicles were fitted with remotely operated weapon stations that were under covers and did not have machine guns fitted. They also appeared to have radio frequency jamming systems of a type previously seen on Turkish army vehicles, as well as mounts for an optional shot-detection sensor.

The vehicles were delivered by the Ro-Ro cargo ship Amazon (IMO: 7702657), which stopped at İzmir, where there is a BMC factory that makes the Kirpi, before sailing directly to Tripoli, according to AIS tracking data.

Meanwhile, there were also claims that the LNA has received new types of armoured vehicles, with photographs circulating on social media showing an 8×8 Al-Mared and a 6×6 Mbombe that were purportedly in service with the predominantly eastern Libyan faction.


 

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Libya Says it Rescued 290 Migrants in Mediterranean
Friday, 24 May, 2019


FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2018 filer, the Sea-Watch rescue ship waits off the coast of Malta (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud, File)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Libya's navy confirmed on Friday that it rescued three boats carrying a total of 290 Europe-bound migrants off the country's Mediterranean coast, following reports by a German aid group about the disaster.

Libyan coast guards first reported finding off Qarabuli a sinking rubber boat whose bottom had collapsed on Thursday, leaving most migrants in the water and hanging onto what was left of the boat and plastic barrels.

A statement posted Friday on the navy press center's official Facebook page says that boat carried 87 migrants, including six women and a child.

Earlier, the coast guard came to the rescue of two other rubber boats carrying a total of 203 migrants off Zlitin, according to a separate statement.

The three boats carried mostly Arab and African nationals as well as 14 Bangladeshis, who were handed over to Libyan police after receiving humanitarian and medical aid.

A few hours earlier, German aid group Sea-Watch said its aircraft had witnessed three rescue operations by Libyan coast guards on Thursday.

Libya has become a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe. Thousands have perished while making the perilous sea crossing.

 

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Haftar rules out ceasefire
Reuters
23 May 2019

Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron, ruled out a ceasefire and said he wanted to rid Tripoli of militias “infesting” the UN-backed government, a French presidential official said.

The flare-up in the conflict in Libya – gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 – began in early April, when Haftar’s Libyan National Army advanced on the capital. The LNA is now bogged down in southern suburbs by fighters loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Macron and French officials have for weeks repeated official support for the GNA and call for an unconditional ceasefire. Some European countries including France support Haftar to fight Islamist militants.

“The distrust we see between Libyan actors is stronger than ever,” said the official after the Paris meeting between Macron and Haftar.

“When the ceasefire question was put on the table, Haftar’s reaction was to ask: ‘negotiate with who for a ceasefire today?’” the official said.

The battle for Tripoli has killed at least 510, forced 75,000 from their homes, trapped migrants in detention centres and flattened some southern suburbs. It also forced closure of schools, split families on different sides of the front line, and brought power cuts.

“He (Haftar) considers that the GNA is completely infested by militias and it is not for him to negotiate with representatives of these militias,” the official said.

The official said Macron had asked Haftar to make a public step towards a ceasefire and Haftar responded by saying that an inclusive political dialogue was necessary and he would be ready for it if the conditions for a ceasefire were in place.

However, the official said Haftar had given no indication as to when he would be ready for any potential talks.

Speaking on Euronews television on Wednesday, Serraj also appeared to rule out a ceasefire, warning that the fighting would not stop until Haftar’s troops had pulled back east.

The United Nations’ Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, said on Tuesday the current fighting could be the start of a long and bloody conflict in the country that could permanently divide it.

“We can clearly see the impasse that exists today between the desire of the international community to say that there must be a ceasefire and a resumption of political discussions and the way in which Haftar sees things with his explanation of the lack of legitimacy of the interlocutors (on the other side),” the French official said.

The official also said Haftar had rejected suggestions he or forces loyal to him were benefiting from oil sales in the east of the country.

 

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Rockets Hit Libya HQ of Sarraj’s MPs Amid Arrest of Pro-Haftar Activists
Saturday, 25 May, 2019


Men walk in front of Rixos hotel damaged by a rocket in Tripoli, Libya May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Cairo - Jamal Jawhar

The Rixos Hotel and Conference Center in the Libyan capital serving as a base for lawmakers allied with the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, was hit by rocket fire Friday.

Sarraj’s Presidential Council condemned what it said was a “crime committed by rival forces.”

This behavior is a “blatant violation of international humanitarian law that criminalizes attacks on civilian infrastructure and neighborhoods,” it said in a statement.

It stressed that GNA forces continue to confront the attackers and make progress on all battlefronts.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against Tripoli in early April.

Witnesses said Friday that leaflets were distributed in Tripoli urging residents to launch an “intifadah” against militias to help the LNA gain control of the capital.

A statement by the LNA command said that GNA forces have been carrying out a campaign of arrest and intimidation against journalists and activists who have called for the National Army’s support.

The statement reassured the residents that it would bring the detainees back from captivity.

Also Friday, Libya's navy confirmed that it rescued three boats carrying a total of 290 Europe-bound migrants off the country's Mediterranean coast.

Libyan coast guards first reported finding off Qarabuli a sinking rubber boat whose bottom had collapsed on Thursday, leaving most migrants in the water and hanging onto what was left of the boat and plastic barrels.

A statement posted on the navy press center's official Facebook page said that boat carried 87 migrants, including six women and a child.

Earlier, the coast guard came to the rescue of two other rubber boats carrying a total of 203 migrants off Zlitin, according to a separate statement.


 

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Casualties in W. Libya Militias Clash over ‘Turkish Spoils’
Sunday, 26 May, 2019

A member of an alliance of militias from Libya's capital city, takes position during clashes with the Seventh Brigade group from the town of Tarhuna (AFP)

Cairo – Jamal Jawhar

A bloody clash erupted between pro-Government of National Accord (GNA) militias in western Libya in recent days over a Turkish armored vehicles deal.

The vehicles were set to be given the GNA’s Presidential Council that is chaired by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Clashes erupted in the western city of Zawiya late on Friday in wake of the death of Firas al-Mukhtar Sharkas, the commander of a militia that is affiliated with the GNA’s Interior Ministry. His cousin was also killed in a clash with another militia over a Turkish weapons shipment.

The shipment had arrived in the capital, Tripoli, on May 18. The arms were sent to the GNA militias as they are confronted with an operation by the Libyan National Army (LNA) operation to liberate Tripoli from armed groups.

The GNA had acknowledged the Turkish shipment of weapons and armored vehicles, prompting fierce criticism from the LNA and warnings that the delivery violates an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council against Libya.

The militia fighting broke out Friday night after Sharkas seized one of the new Turkish vehicles, sparking a clash with rival militants, said witnesses. The fighting culminated in his death and the death of his cousin.

Security commander Mohammed Abdul Salam al-Maseeni told Asharq Al-Awsat that the militias in western Libya have always clashed with each other.

Sarraj’s Special Deterrent Force intervened to end the Zawiya fighting. It arrested two gunmen suspected of killing Sharkas and his cousin. An investigation will be opened in the incident.

Throughout 2018, hundreds of militants were killed in Tripoli and its suburbs in clashes between rival militias over financial and logistic gains.

 

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No Libya ceasefire – newspaper
Reuters -
27th May 2019

Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar ruled out a ceasefire in the battle for Tripoli and accused the United Nations of seeking to partition Libya, according to an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) began an offensive early in April to take Tripoli from fighters loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) which has the backing of the United Nations.

The LNA, allied to a parallel government in the east, has not been able to breach the southern defences of Tripoli. Fighting killed at least 510, forced 75,000 from their homes and trapped migrants in detention centres.

“Of course, the political solution is still the goal. But to get back to politics, we must first finish with militias,” Haftar told the newspaper.
Haftar said the head of UN mission to Libya, Ghassan Salame, was no longer impartial.

“Partition of Libya is maybe what our adversaries want. This is maybe what Ghassan Salame also wants.”

The flare-up in conflict in Libya – gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 – began in early April, when the LNA advanced on the capital.

Even though France and other Western countries officially back the Libyan government, some support Haftar seeing him as a bulwark against Islamist militias in the country.

Macron asked Haftar in Paris last week to make a public step towards a ceasefire, without much luck, a French official told Reuters.


 

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Heavy fighting in Tripoli
Reuters -
27th May 2019

Heavy fighting raged in the Libyan capital on Saturday as eastern forces pushed to advance inside the city controlled by the internationally recognised government.

The Libya National Army (LNA) force of Khalifa Haftar, allied to a parallel government in the east, started an offensive to take Tripoli almost two months ago but has not breached the city’s southern defences.

The LNA made a new push on Saturday, trying to advance from the former airport – located in a southern suburb – towards the centre but there was no progress, residents said.

Fighting slowed in recent weeks during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan when most people fast until sunset.

The battle for Tripoli has killed at least 510, forced 75,000 from their homes, trapped migrants in detention centres and flattened some southern suburbs. It also forced closure of schools, split families on different sides of the front line, and brought power cuts.

Two ambulance workers were killed and three wounded last week when their ambulances were hit, the World Health Organisation said. It did not say who was responsible.

The United Nations has been unable to negotiate a ceasefire. France, like other European countries, called for a ceasefire but also supported Haftar as a way to fight Islamist militants in the country.

On Wednesday, Haftar, meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, ruled out a ceasefire and said he wanted to rid the capital of militias “infesting” the UN-backed government of Premier Fayez al-Serraj, a French presidential official said.

 

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Khalifa Hifter's forces push toward Libyan capital city's center

By Samy Magdy
Associated Press -
Monday, May 27, 2019

CAIRO (AP) — Heavy clashes have been slowly nearing the center of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, as forces loyal to the military commander Khalifa Hifter battle to seize power, an official and residents said Monday.

Hifter opened a military offensive on the Libyan capital of Tripoli in early April despite commitments to move toward elections in the North African country.

Libya is divided between Hifter, whose self-styled Libyan National Army controls the east and much of the south, and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, who runs the U.N.-supported but weak government in Tripoli.

In recent weeks, the clashes had receded with the start of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk.

But in the past couple of days, the capital’s siege has intensified. Hifter’s forces have pushed ahead in Tripoli’s eastern and southern suburbs. The LNA’s media office said they have taken control of areas near the Tripoli International Airport, which was largely destroyed in the civil war following the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011.

Saraj al-Majbri, an aid to the LNA’s chief of staff, said its forces have also made gains in the area of Salah al-Deen, a few kilometers from the city center

 

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LNA Breaches GNA Defenses in Southern Tripoli
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019


Men walk in front of Rexos hotel damaged by a rocket in Tripoli, Libya May 24, 2019. (Reuters)

Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud

The Libyan National Army (LNA) announced on Monday that its forces had breached for the first time the defenses of the Government of National Accord in southern Tripoli.

LNA media released images of what it said were the first moments of the breach of neighborhoods near Tripoli International Airport.

“They have been cleansed of terrorist militias,” it said.

LNA jets also carried out strikes against pro-GNA positions in southern and western Tripoli.

Saraj al-Majbri, an aide to the LNA's chief of staff, said its forces have also made gains in the area of Salaheddine, a few kilometers from the city center, reported The Associated Press.

The LNA had launched on April 4 an offensive against the capital to rid it of terrorist and criminal gangs that are affiliated with the GNA of Fayez al-Sarraj.

The fighting has killed at least 562 people, including 40 civilians, a UN agency said Monday. It added that among the killed, were two health workers, when shelling hit their ambulance cars south of Tripoli on Thursday.

The GNA claimed that the LNA had struck residential areas. A military official in the LNA refuted the claims to Asharq Al-Awsat. He instead accused the militias of seeking to incite the locals against the army.

Moreover, the GNA’s Interior Ministry alleged that terrorists were among the LNA forces marching on Tripoli. It revealed that it will take up the issue before the United Nations Security Council and European Union, accusing the LNA of committing war crimes.

It said that its security forces have arrested several ISIS members in recent months.

Separately, the UN mission in Libya expressed its grave concern over the kidnapping of a member of the Higher Council of State.

Mohammed Abu Ghamga was kidnapped last week from his home town of Qasr Ben Ghashir, some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of the capital, after it was seized by the LNA. The UN mission accused the LNA of kidnapping Abu Ghamga, a charge denied by its media office.

The mission “is also concerned regarding the airstrike on the Rexos compound in Tripoli, a civilian facility located in a high populated area that has been used by members of the House of Representatives for meetings. Shelling civilian targets and the kidnapping of civilians including political actors sends a worryingly anti-democratic message,” it said in a statement.

The mission is working with parties on the ground to acquire the evidence necessary to prosecute all of those proved to have been involved in these violations and all other incidents against the civilian population and civilian infrastructure, it added.

The mission “calls once again for all those arbitrarily detained and abducted to be immediately released, and reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligations under the International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights Law.”


 

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Turkey just shipped BMC Kirpi MRAPs in a clear violation of UN arms embargo on Libya

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Jordanian armoured vehicles spotted in Libya
by defenceWeb -
28th May 2019


An Al-Mared armoured vehicle in Libya.

It appears that Jordan has delivered an unknown number of Mbombe 6×6 armoured vehicles to forces in Libya allied to Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) along with Jordanian-manufactured Al-Mared 8×8 vehicles.

Several photos and videos have emerged online appearing to show Mbombe 6 vehicles in use with forces allied to the Libyan National Army after being delivered by Jordan. It appears one was captured by Government of National Accord forces after being hit by enemy fire south of Tripoli, with a large hole revealed in the side of one vehicle seen in a video posted on social media.

In mid-2016 it was announced that Paramount Group and Jordan Manufacturing Services Solutions (JMSS) had signed a contract for the local production and assembly of Paramount’s Mbombe 6×6 vehicle, with 50 vehicles to be supplied (25 coming from South Africa and 25 being built in Jordan). It is understood that not all the contracted vehicles were delivered, making it unclear how many Mbombes Jordan actually had in service. The Mbombe 6×6 weighs 17.3 tonnes empty and has a payload of 5.2 tonnes. The vehicle can carry three crew and eight soldiers.

Other images on social media show Al-Mared 8×8 armoured vehicles delivered to the Libyan National Army. The Al-Mared infantry fighting vehicle is manufactured by Jordan’s King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) and is based on an 8×8 Tatra truck chassis with an armoured hull that provides ballistic protection up to STANAG 4569 Level 3. A V-shaped armoured hull provides protection against an 8 kg mine blast under the wheels. The vehicle can carry eight soldiers and two crew.

Jordan has previously delivered other vehicles to Libya – for example in 2013 it supplied 49 Nimr vehicles and in June 2018 a Jordanian manufactured Al-Wahsh 4×4 armoured personnel carrier was spotted in Libyan National Army service, equipped with a Jordanian Snake Head turret. The Al-Wahsh is a relatively new 4×4 armoured personnel carrier developed by KADDB. It was launched in 2016 and is based on a Czech Republic Tatra (4×4) cross-country chassis, with STANAG 4569 Level 1-2 armour.

Eight passengers can be carried. Weapons and turrets can be mounted on the roof. The APC is powered by a 370hp diesel engine giving a top speed of 110km/h and a maximum range of 600 km.

The recent Jordanian deliveries appear to be in response to the 18 May delivery of dozens of Kirpi II armoured vehicles to forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). They were shipped to Libya from Turkey along with several Vuran vehicles.

The Kirpi (Hedgehog) is manufactured by Turkey’s BMC and is in service with the Turkish armed forces. It is based on the Israeli Hatehof (Carmor) Navigator protected vehicle. Ten soldiers and three crew can be carried. A V-shaped hull provides protection against landmines, while the armoured hull provides ballistic protection to STANAG 4569 Level 3. According to BMC, the Kirpi has a top speed of 100 km/h, range of 800 km and is powered by a Cummins diesel engine delivering 375 horsepower. Gross weight is 19 tonnes.

The Vuran is 4×4 tactical armoured vehicle unveiled in May 2015. It features a V-shaped hull for landmine and IED protection. The engine is located at the front of the vehicle, with the crew in the middle and troop compartment in the rear. A total of nine people can be carried.

It appears that all the Kirpi and Vuran vehicles delivered to Libya have been fitted with Aselsan’s Stabilized Advanced Remote Weapon Platform (SARP), with the vehicles armed with 12.7 mm heavy machineguns.

Earlier this month, a Tripoli government spokesman said his administration was talking to its ally Turkey to obtain “anything that is needed to stop the assault,” by forces allied to the Libyan National Army against Tripoli, including military and civilian help.

The LNA, which is allied to a rival administration in eastern Libya, launched an offensive to control Tripoli in early April.

Since 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt have provided the LNA with military equipment such as Panthera T6, Typhoon and Caiman armoured vehicles, MiG-21 fighter aircraft and Mi-24/35P helicopters, helping Haftar to gain the upper hand in Libya’s eight-year conflict, according to UN reports. Such deliveries are in violation of the UN arms embargo against Libya.

The Libyan National Army on 20 May announced it would impose a naval blockade on ports in west Libya to prevent any more shipments of military equipment reaching GNA forces.

 

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US’ Pompeo, Egypt FM urge calm in Libya amid Tripoli offensive

AFP
May 28, 2019

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the crisis in Libya during a phone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry
  • Khalifa Haftar on a visit last week to France rejected a cease-fire urged by President Emmanuel Macron
WASHINGTON: The United States and Egypt, a key backer of Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar, on Tuesday called for calm as the strongman pressed ahead in his offensive on Tripoli.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the crisis in Libya during a phone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the State Department said.

The two discussed “the urgent need to achieve a political solution in Libya and prevent further escalation,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

Haftar is pressing ahead against the internationally backed government in Tripoli in fighting that has left 510 dead and driven more than 75,000 people from their homes, according to World Health Organization figures.

Haftar on a visit last week to France rejected a cease-fire urged by President Emmanuel Macron.

In an interview with the Journal de Dimanche newspaper, Haftar said he would continue the operation until “private militias and extremist groups,” who he alleged were gaining influence under Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj laid down their weapons.


 

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LNA Nears Tripoli Center as Salame Resolves 'Misunderstanding' with Haftar
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019


LNA members get ready before heading out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, Libya April 13, 2019. (Reuters)

Cairo – Khaled Mahmoud

The Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Hafar, continued its offensive to push the forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) to abandon their fortifications in southern Tripoli.

A spokesman, Khaled al-Mahjoub, said that the operations against the pro-GNA militias are advancing smoothly and according to plan, predicting that the groups could collapse at any moment.

He reiterated Haftar’s amnesty proposal to the militias in return for them to lay down their arms and surrender.

He also called on local and international rights groups to register the Tripoli authorities’ arrest of hundreds of LNA supporters in the capital.

The LNA had on Monday launched a broader offensive in Tripoli’s eastern and southern suburbs and was nearing the city center.

One LNA official said the forces were a few kilometers from the center.

Meanwhile, GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj made a surprise visit to Malta for talks with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. He stressed that the GNA was determined to continue resisting the LNA assault.

A Libyan resident of Malta heckled Sarraj as he departed one of his meetings in the island nation.

He accused Sarraj of supporting extremist and outlawed groups.

Ossama Abou Zalqam, a Tripoli native, boasted of his support to the LNA. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was briefly detained by police for shouting in a public square and heckling a presidential convoy.

He added: “Sarraj is not a Libyan official, but he has usurped power and looted the country’s wealth.”

“The militias are protecting Sarraj, even beyond Libya’s borders,” he remarked.

Separately, UN special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said that channels of communication between him and Haftar were still open despite the LNA leader’s recent sharp criticism against him.

Haftar had accused Salame of being biased in tackling the Libyan crisis and of seeking to partition the North African nation.

Salame told France 24 that a misunderstanding had occurred and the dispute has since been resolved. He revealed that Haftar had requested that he continue his mediation, adding that he has never considered quitting his post.


 

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Libyan Army Accuses Turkish Officers of Training GNA Forces
Thursday, 30 May, 2019


A fighter loyal to the GNA fires a heavy machine gun as a press photographer take pictures of the scene during clashes with the LNA, on May 25, 2019, in the Airport Road Area, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud

The Libyan National Army (LNA) has revealed that Turkish military and intelligence officers are training armed militias loyal to Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) to take part in the battles raging since April 4 in Tripoli.

The United States and Egypt called for calm as LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar pressed ahead in his offensive on the Libyan capital

According to the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the crisis in Libya during a phone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The two discussed "the urgent need to achieve a political solution in Libya and prevent further escalation," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

In the battlefield, LNA’s Karama operations media center said that an airstrike carried out by Sarraj’s forces on Tuesday led to the partial destruction of houses and vehicles.

The center accused GNA-backed terrorist militias of targeting residential areas that have thrown their support behind the army in its operation to liberate Tripoli.

In its statement, the center considered these activities as crimes against humanity, saying the perpetrators should be held accountable.

It added that the army was accurate in its air strikes to avoid casualties among civilians.

Earlier in the morning, fierce clashes erupted between the army and Sarraj’s forces on the fronts of Ain Zara and Wadi Alrabie south of Tripoli. The army announced arresting seven members of Misrata militias in an operation in Ain Zara.

Meanwhile, the LNA media unit released video footage of military officials from Turkey training armed militias loyal to Sarraj.

The video, which was found on the phone of a detainee, showed Turkish officers setting up military operations rooms, said the unit.

Moreover, the LNA accused the Muslim Brotherhood of recruiting mercenaries to fight alongside Sarraj’s government.

Spokesman of the GNA Military Region Colonel Mohammed Qannouno declared that the air force launched on Tuesday five combat missions that targeted LNA sites. Qannouno didn’t give further details

 

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War-torn Libya’s electricians battle to keep the lights on

AFP
May 30, 2019

  • High-voltage cables run along the road for 30 kilometers (20 miles), carrying electricity to the capital, but they are regularly damaged by the fighting
  • Libya has faced chronic electricity shortages since 2011, particularly during the cold of winter and the searing heat of summer
TRIPOLI: Precariously perched 50 meters up an electricity pylon providing power to Libya’s capital, Mohamad Dahman attempts to fix damage caused by fighting — but hastily descends when a rocket explodes nearby.

“We’re used to working under bombing,” he says.

“Our repair teams have been at high risk since 2011,” the year a NATO-backed uprising toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi, plunging the country into years of bloody chaos.

On the road leading to Tripoli’s long-disused international airport, fighting has raged since early April when eastern-based military strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an assault to seize the capital from Libya’s unity government.

The only traffic on the highway today consists of tanks and armored vehicles. Most residents have fled.

High-voltage cables run along the road for 30 kilometers (20 miles), carrying electricity to the capital, but they are regularly damaged by the fighting.

Despite the heat, the Ramadan fast and “the danger of being hit by random rockets,” Dahman says he keeps coming back to fix them.

“Hopefully we can make things easier for people by shortening the blackouts.”

Later on, as they were repairing another pylon, he and his team came under heavy fire and had to leave the area in a hurry.

Mohamad Abdallah, human resources manager at the national General Electricity Company of Libya (Gecol), says each damaged transmission tower can take up to 48 hours to repair.

“The fighting means we can’t finish operations” on the many pylons that need fixing, he says.

Libya has faced chronic electricity shortages since 2011, particularly during the cold of winter and the searing heat of summer.

The supply is rationed, with cuts averaging more than ten hours a day during the summer season when air conditioning is indispensable.
For now, the weather is mild.

But power outages may worsen in the heat of the desert summer, exacerbated by the damage caused by fighting between Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and armed groups nominally loyal to the Tripoli-based unity government.

Ayad Al-Geneidi, Gecol’s executive manager, tells AFP that the network had suffered “huge damage” in the fighting.

“They’ve hit every part of the network, from the wires to the pylons and the distribution stations,” he says at his office near the airport highway.

He explains that some installations have been completely destroyed, particularly in regions near the airport which have seen fierce fighting.
“It keeps happening — every day there are new bombings,” he says.

Even before Haftar’s offensive began, Gecol estimated that fighting and looting since 2011 had caused more than a billion dollars-worth of damage to its network.

“We’re expecting a 1,000 megawatt shortfall in the middle of summer,” Geneidi says, predicting that the network could produce around 6,000 megawatts — providing it isn’t damaged further.

The latest round of fighting has also forced two European companies at a power station west of Tripoli, one Italian and one Austrian, to halt operations and evacuate their staff.

Other firms from South Korea, Turkey and Germany had to suspend projects to build new power stations under contracts signed prior to the 2011 uprising.

The reluctance of foreign firms to return to the volatile country means it relies on its neighbors, Algeria and Tunisia, for electricity.

“We’re counting on the national spirit of Libyans to help us by reducing their electricity use during the summer peak times,” Geneidi says.

But with another scorching summer approaching, many will find it hard to resist the temptation to crank the air conditioning up to full blast whenever the power is on.

 

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Libyan Officer: Ashmawy Offered Cooperation to Avoid Handing Him to Egypt
Friday, 31 May, 2019


This file handout picture released on October 8, 2018, by the Libyan National Army shows Hisham al-Ashmawy after being arrested in the Libyan city of Derna. - (Photo by - / Libyan Armed Forces / AFP)

Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud

Sulaiman Boulahti, commander of the incursion group in Derna (eastern Libya), has stated that Hisham al-Ashmawy had fears of being transferred to his hometown and offered cooperation with the party that arrested him to avoid handing him to the Egyptian authorities.

Ashmawy was arrested in October in Derna for terrorism cases and was handed to Egypt on Tuesday by the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Boulahti told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that when he asked him what brought him to Derna his reply was to fight for Palestine, so he replied: “Palestine is not in Derna.”

Boulahti, who lost seven out of his eight children in the battles under the leadership of Commander of LNA Khalifa Haftar, told him: “You killed our sons,” however, Ashmawy denied so.

The Libyan officer recalls the first moments of arresting Ashmawy, who is considered a bank of information.

“My nephew Ahmad Hamid Boulahti arrested him and beat him with the rifle on his head. He had an explosive belt in his hand.”

Boulahti said that at the beginning people were saying that there aren’t foreigners in Derna but after tightening the grip at the existing militants, the presence of many others was discovered. He expressed honor for arresting Ashmawy and other 27 terrorists including Libyans and foreigners from Tunisia, Mauritania and other countries.

Further, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mesmar affirmed that Ashmawy confessed his responsibility for training terrorist groups for street fights in Libya. In a press conference on Wednesday, he said that investigations have shown that terrorism in Libya is linked to other countries such as Syria and Iraq.

A retrial will be held in Egypt for Ashmawy to whom an execution sentence was issued in absentia in 2017 for his implication with Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in attacking and killing soldiers at a checking point near the Egyptian-Libyan border.


 

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