Libya’s UN-backed gov’t takes over western Libya, advances to control Sirte

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FILE PHOTO: A fighter of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez al-Sarraj, fires a truck-mounted machine gun at the forces of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Photo by Amru Salahuddien/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The spokesman of the UN-backed Libyan government on Saturday announced the launch of an offensive to take over the city of Sirte, some 450 km east of the capital Tripoli, from the eastern-based army after it withdrew from western Libya.

The spokesman said the UN-backed government’s forces launched five airstrikes on the eastern-based army in Sirte that destroyed military vehicles of the eastern-based army.

Mohamed Gonono on Friday announced taking over all of western Libya after controlling Tarhuna city, the last stronghold of the rival eastern-based army in western Libya that is located some 90 km southeast of the capital Tripoli, following withdrawal of the rival eastern-based army.

The spokesman of the eastern-based army of Libya, Ahmad al-Mismari, on Friday said the eastern-based army had withdrawn from western Libya due to “international pressure.”

Munther Al-Zawi, a military commander of the UN-backed government’s forces, said that Tarhuna was the biggest threat to the UN-backed government in western Libya, which the eastern-based used as a major hub for military operations.

“Currently, we are chasing the remnants of the militias of Haftar (commander of eastern-based army) fleeing southeast of Tripoli. We will not allow any of his forces to remain in western Libya. Now, things have changed and we will not allow threats from eastern Libya, where Haftar’s is based and launches attacks,” Al-Zawi told Xinhua.

“We do not have any problems with our people in the east, unlike the godfather of chaos Haftar, who caused the loss of thousands of Libyan lives in a losing war only because of his greed for power at any cost,” he added.

Libyan parliament member, Mustafa Abu-Shagour, confirmed that the UN-backed government had defeated an “international coalition” that supported the eastern-based army.

“The 14-month epic fight of Tripoli ended with victory of the defenders of the country over the international coalition that brought mercenaries from all over the world to support Haftar, who wanted to destroy Tripoli and destroy the hope of the Libyans for a state. The Libyan freemen presented convoys of martyrs to repel this brutal aggression on their capital,” Abu-Shagour said in a statement.

The eastern-based army launched a military campaign in April 2019, attempting to take over Tripoli from the UN-backed government.

The fighting killed and injured hundreds of civilians and forced more than 150,000 others to flee their homes.

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