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Casualties in W. Libya Militias Clash over ‘Turkish Spoils’

Casualties in W. Libya Militias Clash over ‘Turkish Spoils’

Sunday, 26 May, 2019 - 05:45
A member of an alliance of militias from Libya's capital city, takes position during clashes with the Seventh Brigade group from the town of Tarhuna (AFP)

A bloody clash erupted between pro-Government of National Accord (GNA) militias in western Libya in recent days over a Turkish armored vehicles deal.

The vehicles were set to be given the GNA’s Presidential Council that is chaired by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Clashes erupted in the western city of Zawiya late on Friday in wake of the death of Firas al-Mukhtar Sharkas, the commander of a militia that is affiliated with the GNA’s Interior Ministry. His cousin was also killed in a clash with another militia over a Turkish weapons shipment.

The shipment had arrived in the capital, Tripoli, on May 18. The arms were sent to the GNA militias as they are confronted with an operation by the Libyan National Army (LNA) operation to liberate Tripoli from armed groups.

The GNA had acknowledged the Turkish shipment of weapons and armored vehicles, prompting fierce criticism from the LNA and warnings that the delivery violates an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council against Libya.

The militia fighting broke out Friday night after Sharkas seized one of the new Turkish vehicles, sparking a clash with rival militants, said witnesses. The fighting culminated in his death and the death of his cousin.

Security commander Mohammed Abdul Salam al-Maseeni told Asharq Al-Awsat that the militias in western Libya have always clashed with each other.

Sarraj’s Special Deterrent Force intervened to end the Zawiya fighting. It arrested two gunmen suspected of killing Sharkas and his cousin. An investigation will be opened in the incident.

Throughout 2018, hundreds of militants were killed in Tripoli and its suburbs in clashes between rival militias over financial and logistic gains.

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