Pro-government forces announced on Friday that they had taken control of western Libya and inflicted severe defeat on rival troops from marshal Khalifa Haftar.
It was their last stronghold in this region and pro-government forces announced on Friday, June 5, that they had taken control of all of western Libya and inflicted severe defeat on rival troops from Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
“Our heroic forces have increased their control over the entire city of Tarhouna, after wiping out Haftar’s terror militia,” 80 km south of the capital Tripoli, announced Mohamad Gnounou, Union Government Spokesman National (GNA), recognized by the UN.
The loss of Tarhouna marks a turning point in the conflict between the two camps since the launch, by Marshal Haftaren in April 2019, of an offensive to arrest Tripoli.
“Redistribution” of troops outside Tripoli
The conflict has increased the involvement of foreign powers in recent months. The increased military support of the Turkish allies has enabled GNA in particular to register a series of successes. Strong man from eastern Libya, Khalifa Haftara who brought him summer with the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.
Since Wednesday, GNA has gradually announced the takeover of Tripoli International Airport, out of operation since 2014, total control over the administrative boundaries of Greater Tripoli and the takeover of Tarhouna.
Without directly confirming the first two setbacks, Ahmad al-Mesmari, spokesman for Marshal Haftar, said on Thursday about a “redistribution” of troops outside Tripoli.
He called for “a humanitarian initiative to stop the bloodshed of the Libyan people”, and assured that the decision for this redistribution had been made after “accepting the military command to join the military committee under the government ‘UN.”
Libya war: the Union government says it has taken over Tripoli
Warning for reprisals against civilians
On Wednesday, the UN announced the resumption in Geneva of negotiations with the military committee, which includes five pro-GNA and five pro-Haftar members and aims to obtain a firearm. These negotiations had been suspended for more than three months.
So far, all previous attempts to establish a lasting ceasefire have failed.
Since March Haftar’s offensive in April 2019, hundreds of people, including many civilians, have been killed in the violence and about 200,000 have fled.
Libyan media has shown the deployment of pro-GNA in Tarhouna which is called to secure the premises. The Pro-GNA command warned its troops against “reprisals, looting or destruction” in the city.
According to NGO Amnesty International, “war crimes and other crimes are alleged by warriors (…) during the clashes near Tripoli” from April to the end of May. “Civilians pay the price again, while the parties (in conflict) multiply reprisals and violations,” said the NGO.
She warned against reprisals against civilians in connection with rival camps and urged Turkey, Russia and the Emirates to “stop violating the UN arms embargo” on Libya.
GNA chief determined to “defeat the enemy”
Following the recent setbacks, pro-Haftar commanders fled to Bani Walid Airport, a city controlled by local tribes 170 km southeast of Tripoli, according to pro-GNA sources.
By starting his offensive, marshal Haftar counted on a quick victory but the fighting was quickly caught.
GNA is supported locally by armed groups in western Libya, especially those in Misrata, and now controls GNA throughout the western country.
Marshal Haftar controls the East, including most of the oil terminals, blocked by his forces since the beginning of the year, as well as part of the South.
During Thursday’s flight to Ankara, the head of GNA Fayez al-Sarraj said he was determined to “defeat the enemy” and to continue “the fight”.
Russia said it was “deeply concerned about developments” in Libya. For Wolfram Lacher, a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the hardships of Marshal Haftar show “how decisive foreign aid has become for both parties”.