Marshal Haftar’s forces fall back on the outskirts of Tripoli

After losing one of its most important bastions on Monday, forces of Libyan marshal Khalifa Haftar announced the start of a two to three kilometer getaway from all the main lines of the capital Tripoli. The operation aims to facilitate the movement of people during Ramadan.

The Libyan National Army (ANL) from Marshal Haftar has decided to withdraw two to three kilometers from all the main lines of the capital Tripoli from Wednesday, May 20 at midnight, their spokesman announced, indicating that this decision was intended to facilitate the population to move at the end of Ramadan.

Ahmed al-Mismari urged the forces of the Government of National Understanding (GEN), recognized by the international community, to do the same – without specifying whether ANL’s decision would be linked to GEN.

The announcement comes two days after the loss of a major ANL bastion, which it has controlled since 2014. Pro-government forces took control of the Watiya air base on Monday, their biggest success in a year. It was the only ANL air base near the capital.

Fayez el Sarraj’s forces are moving forward

For Hamish Kinnear, an analyst for Verisk Maplecroft Research Institute, this takeover of GEN represents a “new blow” to the forces of Marshal Haftar following the loss of the cities of Sorman and Sabratha last month.

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With increasing Turkish support, pro-GEN took a few weeks ago from important coastal cities west of Tripoli, before surrounding the Al-Watiya air base, 140 km to the southwest of Tripoli.

Libya has been thrown into chaos since 2011 and is divided into two rival camps between GEN under the leadership of Fayez el-Sarraj, located in Tripoli and recognized by the international community, and a parallel government supported by Khalifa Haftar in the east from country.

Still no firearms

ANL, which holds eastern Libya, launched an offensive more than a year ago to arrest Tripoli.

Over the months, foreign interventions have exacerbated the conflict, with the United Arab Emirates and Russia supporting the Haftar camp and Turkey’s GNA.

Despite the efforts of UN special envoy Ghassan Salamé – who resigned in early March – and the various international mediations, no lasting ceasefire has been achieved for almost a year and the start of the Haftar offensive in April 2019 at Tripoli.

Since the conflict began in April 2019, violence has left hundreds of people dead and forced about 200,000 people to flee.

With AFP and Reuters