BENGHAZI: The self-styled Libyan National Army loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar announced Sunday a “major offensive” to drive rival groups from the country’s northeastern oil crescent.
Armed groups on Thursday attacked the Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra terminals held by Haftar’s forces around 650 kilometres (400 miles) east of Tripoli. “We have launched a major offensive supported by the army and air force to drive out the militias of (Ibrahim) Jadhran and his allies”, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari told AFP. Jadhran’s Petroleum Facilities Guard controlled the terminals for years following the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime Libyan strongman Moamer Khadafi but were eventually forced out by the LNA.
The LNA controls most of eastern Libya and is opposed to an internationally recognised government based in Tripoli, which has itself condemned Thursday’s militia attacks. On Thursday, Jadhran said in a video that he had formed an alliance to retake oil terminals seized by Haftar’s forces in September 2016. The LNA’s air force on Sunday told residents in the oil crescent to stay away from “areas where the enemy gathers, munition stores and sites with military vehicles”. “Fighter (planes) are carrying out raids against terrorist positions and gatherings in the operational military zone stretching from Ras Lanuf to the edge of the city of Sirte,” the air force said on its Facebook page.