Libya's GNA says it is targeting Haftar's retreating forces

Clay Curtis
May 23, 2020

Forces allied with Libya's United Nations -supported government in Tripoli said on Thursday that they have wrestled another key town from their rivals who have been trying to capture the Libyan capital for over a year.

Turkey has warned that attacks on its interests in Libya by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's forces will have "grave consequences" after advances by the country's Turkish-backed government.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Sergey Lavrov had a call with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavudoglu, and that they underlined the need for an immediate cease-fire in Libya and the resumption of a political process based on decisions made at a conference in Berlin earlier this year.

Pompeo's statement did not name any country for sending in weapons, but the Government of National Accord's key military supplier is Turkey, which signed a pact with Tripoli in November.

Last year, Middle East Eye reported that as Haftar's offensive against Tripoli began, the LNA had about 15 operational aircraft: eight MiG-21s (one was shot down over Tripoli by a Chinese-made air defence system), three MiG-23s, two Su-22s and two Mirage F1s.

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The GNA also announced that it had regained control of two cities near the Tunisian border from Haftar's forces.

Haftar's forces - backed by Egypt, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates - vowed to retaliate with an air campaign.

The GNA has, with Turkish help, made sudden strides in recent weeks, seizing a string of towns from the LNA and capturing the strategically important Watiya air base.

The LNA still holds all of eastern Libya and much of the south, including most oil facilities. Ankara's defence minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday said that as a result of Turkish training and advice, "the balance in Libya changed significantly".

Haftar's forces have been receiving military equipment from Egypt and the UAE since 2014, and have been using aging Soviet-era jets from the military of Muammar Gaddafi, who was toppled in 2011.

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