Forces allied with Libya’s internationally-recognised Authorities of Nationwide Accord (GNA) say they’ve recaptured two cities close to the Tunisian border from eastern-based renegade army commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.
“Our heroic forces have entered the cities of Bader and Tiji amid welcome from their residents,” the media workplace of the Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) Operation, the government-led counteroffensive launched final April, stated in a press release on Fb on Tuesday.
On Monday, forces allied to the GNA retook the strategic al-Watiya airbase south of the capital, Tripoli. The bottom had been below Haftar’s management since 2014.
Analysts say dropping the bottom, one of many important strongholds for Haftar’s forces in western Libya, is a big blow to Haftar’s year-long marketing campaign to grab the capital from the GNA.
After dropping management of the bottom, Ahmed al-Mesmari, the spokesperson for Haftar’s Libyan Nationwide Military (LNA) stated on Tuesday Libya’s eastern-based forces had withdrawn from some embattled areas of the capital Tripoli.
Nonetheless, al-Mesmari stated within the televised speech that the bottom had been deserted as a part of a long-planned strategic choice and that solely outdated, out of date gear was left there.
He stated the forces had carried out a “redistribution and repositioning within the battlefronts, disengaging from some crowded residential areas”.
“This transfer was not made within the spur of the [moment]; it was deliberate for months. We have been pulling out strategical gear and heavy army gear from the bottom,” al-Mesmari stated.
“Solely yesterday orders got from personnel to withdraw below our air cowl. The withdrawal was profitable, and we have moved the personnel and all of the weaponry and ammunition.
“We’ve our personal plans and we are going to recapture the airbase.”
GNA forces retook the al-Watiya airbase after weeks of makes an attempt, their largest advance in a 12 months that deprives the LNA of its solely airfield close to Tripoli.
After taking the bottom, they paraded what they stated was a Russian-made Pantsir air defence system mounted on a truck, together with an Arabic handbook.
GNA Minister of Inside Fathi Bashagha stated on Twitter that “Haftar’s likelihood of success is now successfully zero” following his lack of Watiya.
Haftar’s forces have been combating for greater than a 12 months to seize Tripoli, the seat of the GNA, with greater than 1,000 killed within the violence.
The GNA, recognised by the United Nations, has moved onto the entrance foot within the conflict since January with elevated army assist from Turkey. The LNA, below Haftar, is supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Russia and Egypt.
Violence between the 2 sides has raged in latest weeks regardless of repeated worldwide requires a humanitarian truce in Libya to deal with the combat in opposition to the coronavirus.
Libya has been in turmoil for the reason that NATO-backed overthrow of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The UN imposed an arms embargo on Libya after Gaddafi’s elimination, nevertheless it has been repeatedly violated.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed reporting from Tripoli stated the lack of the al-Watiya airbase for Haftar’s forces has modified the stability of energy in different entrance strains specifically in southern Tripoli.
“The spokesman of Haftar’s forces said that they’re repositioning, regrouping and that is interpreted as he is paving the way in which for a type of withdrawal,” Abdelwahed stated.
After recapturing Tiji and Bader, authorities forces have since moved on to the city of Asabi’a, one other Haftar stronghold, Abdelwahed stated. Tarhuna now stays the one main stronghold for Haftar’s forces in western Libya.
“It is clear that Haftar’s forces are dropping momentum, particularly [considering] the collection of setbacks they suffered over the 2 months,” Abdelwahed stated.
“They misplaced six strategic cities and cities alongside the western coast in mid-April, the strategic al-Watiya airbase on Monday, Tiji and Bader this morning within the western mountain. And Asabi’a has virtually fallen to the federal government forces. The query now could be whether or not or not Haftar’s forces will withdraw to the town of Tarhuna.”
He added that authorities forces say they may proceed “defending Tripoli till they repel the assault by Haftar’s forces in southern Tripoli”.
Al Jazeera and information businesses