With its latest offensive, the self-proclaimed “Libyan National Army” wants to conquer the capital Tripoli. The fighting between warring militias has long since become a proxy war.
As a reaction to the advance of the fighters of renegade General Chalifa Haftar, the troops of the unity government in Libya have launched a counter-offensive. The offensive was intended to free “all cities” from “illegal fighters,” said government troop spokesman Mohamad Gnunu in the capital Tripoli.
Haftar’s “Libyan National Army” (LNA) offensive on Tripoli had previously been stalled. The Alliance of Capital Militia said it had expelled Haftar’s troops from the international airport. On Saturday, however, columns of army vehicles rolled west from Benghazi, 1200 kilometers away.
On Wednesday Haftar had declared that he would clean the West of Libya of “terrorist groups”. The 75-year-old dominates the eastern part of the country from Benghazi, in Tripoli sits the internationally recognized but largely powerless government of Prime Minister Fajis al-Sarradsch. In fact, the city is dominated by a dozen militias with different political orientations. What they have in common is that their fighters are on the payrolls of ministries or state-owned companies or even control them.
The U.N security council meanwhile conducted a meeting to discuss the escelation of matters in Libya, and issued a statement:
In February Haftar and Sarradsch agreed to hold national elections. The North African country has been ruled by regional militias since the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011. Haftar, who had already been promoted to general under Gaddafi, is justified by the presence of radical Islamists in the two-million metropolis. Suicide bombers attacked the election commission, the state oil agency NOC and the foreign ministry last year.
The G7 also condemned Haftar’s advance and demanded an end to the fighting: