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Libyan Army Prepares for Battle in Tripoli's Major Neighborhoods

Libyan Army Prepares for Battle in Tripoli's Major Neighborhoods

Saturday, 28 December, 2019 - 09:30
Confiscated military vehicles from Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar's troops are seen in Zawiya, west of Tripoli, Libya (File photo: Reuters)

The Libyan National Army continued its attack on sites of Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, advancing further towards the center of the capital, Tripoli.

The Speaker of Libya's House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, accompanied by Chief of Staff of the Libyan Naval Force Faraj al-Mahdawi, arrived Friday in Cyprus on an official visit aimed at coordinating joint positions in face of Sarraj’s agreement with Turkey.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking LNA official told Asharq Al-Awsat that LNA commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar called on army officials to quickly complete the task assigned to liberate Tripoli from GNA affiliates.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that Haftar told these leaders that time is of the essence, but refused to disclose any further details of the meeting.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said on Friday that the next few hours would surprise all those following the developments in Libya, saying that the battle was ongoing and elite forces were preparing to enter into main neighborhoods in Tripoli.

Speaking to al-Arabiya Channel, Mismari asserted the army’s control of strategic areas on the road to Tripoli airport, indicating that the army was advancing after the recent clashes on different axes.

On Friday, LNA announced its control on the airport road and LNA spokesperson of Tripoli Operations Room Brigadier-General Khalid al-Mahjoub confirmed that the army forces were less than 4 kilometers away from the center of Tripoli.

An official in Tripoli confirmed to Reuters a formal request had been made for Turkish military support in the air, on the ground, and at sea.

The official spoke after the GNA’s interior minister, Fathi Bashagha, suggested in comments to reporters in Tunis that no such request had been made.

Sarraj government vowed that a “decisive response” would come in the field, after it accused LNA forces of bombing a pharmacy and commercial stores in al-Zawiya, west of Tripoli, and Ber al-Osta Melad earlier, which led to several civilian deaths and injuries.

GNA asserted that it would spare no effort in protecting Libyans and that a sharp response would be on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced that a bomb landed near al-Zawiya oil port.

NOC renewed its calls for “an immediate cessation of the clashes” calling on all parties to exercise restraint and stay away from oil installations while ensuring the safety of Libyans.

NOC chairman Mustafa Sanallah described targeting the Zawiya oil refinery as a “war crime”, adding that if damaged, vital facilities, including hospitals, power plants, and water desalination, would have no fuel.

This would require the import of additional quantities of gasoline and diesel, costing the Libyan people tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, Sanallah told German news agency DPA.

He noted that this was the second attack near the facilities in the Zawiya area within 24 hours, adding that operations in areas of clashes could be suspended to ensure the safety of employees.

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