The Libyan National Army (LNA) announced Saturday that three of its members were killed and others were injured during sudden clashes between its forces and terrorist elements that tried to attack the Dhara oil field of the Waha oil company.
The field is operated by Waha, a joint-venture between Libya’s state National Oil Company and US firms Hess, Marathon and ConocoPhillips.
These clashes confirmed what military sources in the LNA told Asharq Al-Awsat in November about a number of ISIS elements who were seen and thought to be planning to attack oil fields in the Oil Crescent area.
Located between Benghazi and Tripoli, the Oil Crescent area lies 500 km east of the capital and contains the largest oil reserves, as well as the three largest oil shipping terminals in Libya.
“Clashes broke out after a large group of the armed forces swept the area between Marada and Zella from the remnants of the terrorist groups that have been trying to damage the oil pipelines and tamper with them," a pro-army Libyan news agency quoted a military source as saying.
The source added that "as the troops approached Dhara oil field, armed clashes erupted with an ISIS group.”
One of the soldiers was killed and two others were wounded in clashes, while three ISIS militants were also killed.
Prominent “terrorist" Shaibani Faraj died during the clashes, sources said, noting that the army had seized a car containing five explosive belts and a number of improvised explosive devices that the terrorists were planning to plant on oil lines close to the nearby train route.
A source in the central security room in Benghazi said that two cars were found, one of them was booby-trapped and was ready to be detonated.
The source also pointed out that the citizens' reports contributed to the discovery of the operation, which comes several weeks after a terrorist operation in a residential area in Benghazi left dozens of people dead and injured.