Tag Archives: Libya

Turkey, Sarraj’s GNA Sign Military Deal

Turkey signed a military deal late Wednesday with the head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) following a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, his office said.

Erdogan met with Fayed al-Sarraj to sign agreements on security and military cooperation, as well as maritime jurisdictions. 

“We are confident that we will improve the security situation for the Libyan people together,” Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, wrote on Twitter.

He called on other countries to support the GNA. 

“Stability of Libya is critically important for the safety of Libyans, regional stability, and prevention of international terrorism,” Altun tweeted.

The deal comes despite calls from the Arab League — which includes Libya — to end cooperation with Turkey in protest at its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria last month. 

The Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar has repeatedly said that Turkey has been providing military support to Sarraj’s forces.

Last week, the LNA said it had carried out air strikes on the port city of Misrata, targeting armored vehicles delivered from Turkey and a munitions depot.

The LNA has been on the offensive since early April to take the Libyan capital Tripoli.


Libyan officials: Airstrike kills 7 workers in Tripoli

CAIRO: An airstrike slammed into a biscuit factory in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on Monday killing at least seven workers including five foreign nationals and two Libyans, health authorities said.

Tripoli has been the scene of fighting since April between the self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, and an array of militias loosely allied with the UN-supported but weak government which holds the capital.

The Tripoli-based health ministry said the airstrike took place in the capital’s Wadi el-Rabie neighborhood, south of the city center where fighting has been raging for months.

Malek Merset, a spokesman with the ministry, told The Associated Press that the dead included five workers from Bangladesh, and two Libyan nationals.

The airstrike also wounded at least 33 workers, mostly from Niger and Bangladesh, who were taken to nearby hospitals for urgent treatment, Merset said.

Footage shared online showed wounded people with bandages and blood on their legs on stretchers before being taken by ambulances to hospitals.

Fighting for Tripoli has stalled in recent months, with both sides dug in and shelling one another along the city’s southern reaches. The months of combat have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.

Libya has been divided into rival governments, with Tripoli controlling parts of the country’s west, and a rival government in the east aligned with Haftar’s force. Each side is backed by an array of militias and armed groups fighting over resources and territory.

East Libyan authorities said on Sunday a Libyan Airlines aircraft had been seized by officials at the airport in the western city of Misrata. The Tripoli-government controls the airport, and militias seen as its political allies occupy the city.

Ezz Al-Din Al-Mashnoun, a spokesman for Libyan Airlines, said in a statement that the aircraft is the only functioning plane used by the airline in the eastern region.

The passenger jet was undergoing routine maintenance and was due to take off Sunday for the airport in Benghazi.

Hatem Al-Oreibi, a spokesman for the eastern Libyan administration, demanded that the Misrata airport return the plane within hours or “face escalatory measures,” without elaborating.

The seizure of the plane came days after east Libyan authorities had begun stopping any flights coming from Misrata, alleging security reasons.

Misrata airport is the only functioning airport in western Libya. Tripoli-allied militias have used it as an air base during the conflict.

A spokesman for the UN-supported government did not immediately answer calls seeking comment.

The rise in violence this past year threatens to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.


UAE drone attack killed 7 in Tripoli: Libya gov’t

Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) on Monday accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of carrying out an airstrike that killed seven people south of Tripoli. 

The GNA’s Health Ministry said the airstrike targeted a biscuits factory in Wadi Rabie area, killing two Libyans and five foreign workers and injured 15 others.

The military command of the GNA-affiliated Volcano of Rage Operation said in a statement that the “airstrike was conducted by Emirati unmanned aircraft”.

There was no comment from the UAE on the allegation.

East Libya-based forces aligned with military commander Khalifa Haftar have launched a campaign in April to capture Tripoli from the GNA.

Clashes between the two sides have left over 1,000 people dead and around 5,500 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The oil-rich country has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a NATO-backed uprising after four decades in power.

Libya has since seen the emergence of two rival seats of power, including one in eastern Libya, with which Haftar is affiliated, and the Tripoli-based GNA, which enjoys UN recognition.


Libyan National Army Targets GNA in Sirte

The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, said it has raided sites of armed militias loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the coastal city of Sirte, and thwarted an attack south of the capital, Tripoli.

LNA’s air force attacked Wednesday morning various targets in Qaradabiya airbase in Sirte after it had received military intelligence tips on the locations, according to LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari.

Mismari added that the targets included a military operations room used to control drones and some sites storing and hiding drones.

He added that fighter jets bombed the sites in precise targets.

The spokesman said in the statement that the operation has achieved its objectives, and completely destroyed the facilities.

The LNA leadership announced that the main purpose of the strikes was to destroy the terrorist militias’ capabilities and prevent them from targeting the National Army.

In other news, Volcano of Rage Operation launched by the forces and militias loyal to the GNA, chaired by Fayez al-Sarraj, distributed photographs showing the destruction caused by the LNA in what it termed as an “indiscriminate shelling” in Saladin area in an attempt to compensate for the National Army’s losses south of Tripoli.

Meanwhile, Sarraj has ordered a 40 percent drop in the salaries of GNA representatives, and another decrease of 30 percent in salaries of advisers, starting 2020.

Sarraj’s office issued a statement on Facebook, saying the decrease in the wages will also include the Prime Minister and will be in effect starting January.

It also asked the Ministry of Finance to provide a proposal for the percentage to be cut from the salaries of the state administrative authorities’ employees as well as to take the necessary measures to unify the salary for all public sector staff in Libya.


US military announces killing 11 gunmen in Libya by air strike

US forces killed 11 gunmen suspected to be Daesh members during a second airstrike near the southern Libyan city of Murzuq in less than a week, the US military announced on Wednesday.

The US military’s attack on Tuesday came after another attack on 19 September, which Washington said it killed eight other suspected gunmen.

The Director of Operations in the US African Command (AFRICOM), Major General William Gailer, said in a statement that “the raid was carried out to eliminate Daesh terrorists and prevent them from launching attacks against the Libyan people.”

Some Daesh fighters withdrew to the south towards the Libyan Desert, where the group lost its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte at the end of 2016.

The United States said it would not allow extremists to take advantage of the conflict between eastern and western factions around the capital Tripoli to protect themselves.

Troops stationed in the east, led by Khalifa Haftar, launched an offensive to take control over Tripoli in April, hindering UN-led mediation plans to reach a political settlement in Libya.


Officials discuss return of Turkish firms to Libya

Libyan interior minister and Turkish ambassador on Wednesday discussed possibility of return of Turkish companies to work in Libya again.

Minister Fathi Bashagha and Ambassador Serhat Aksen discussed in Tripoli “issues of joint cooperation in training and economy as well as the return of Turkish companies to work in Libya,” Libyan Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Last year, Turkish companies quit Libyan market when three engineers were kidnapped. The engineers were released after eight months of abduction.

The oil-rich country has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a NATO-backed uprising after four decades in power.

Libya has since seen the emergence of two rival seats of power: One in the east to which Haftar is affiliated, and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, which enjoys the UN recognition.


Mediapart: French warplanes sold to Egypt used to back up Haftar in Libya

A study by French website Mediapart and Radio France Internationale (RFI) and two other French investigation sites in coordination with Dutch site Lighthouse Reports has revealed that French Rafael warplanes sold to Egypt had been used to support Khalifa Haftar’s forces in their military operations in Libya.

The study said the missiles used by Haftar’s forces at a southern Tripoli base are French and France admits this.

“The warplanes used to support Haftar’s forces in attacks on Derna in eastern Libya and airbase near Houn two years ago and there are footage of them.” It said.

Former Chief of French Intelligence Bernard Bajolet told Mediapart that Haftar was more effective than the Head of Presidential Council Fayez Al-Sarraj in fighting terrorism in Libya, saying he was in contact with them when he was in his post

He said Haftar was of more interest to France as he was in control of more areas in Libya.

France sold Egypt 24 Rafale aircraft worth 5.2 billion euros in 2015, which brought lots of criticism by human rights and political organizations.

In 2016, three French military officers were killed in Benghazi, where they were helping Haftar’s forces, after their helicopter was downed by Benghazi Defense Brigades.

Libya’s Army forces under the command of Presidential Council discovered US Javelin missiles sold to France in earlier time. France admitted ownership of the missiles and said they were meant to protect French soldiers delivering anti-terrorism expertise in Libya.


Libya’s Army thwarts attempt by Haftar’s forces to advance in southern Tripoli

Heavy clashes took place on Saturday between Libyan Army forces and Khalifa Haftar’s forces which launched an attack on Tripoli Airport and Kazirma frontlines under a heavy airpower cover.

A source from Volcano of Rage Operation said Haftar’s forces managed to briefly advance on some frontlines in southern Tripoli by heavy artillery shelling and airpower, but the Libyan Army forces were able to receive backup and foiled Haftar’s forces advance, retaking all lost positions.

Under the slogan (Mohsen Al-Kani) Operation, Haftar’s forces started one of the most violent attacks on southern Tripoli frontlines trying to advance on Salah Al-Deen and Yarmouk Camp frontlines, as they are close to Tripoli’s downtown.

The source added that Haftar’s forces entered parts of the Yarmouk Camp before backup forces led by Commander of Liwaa Al-Sumood, Salah Badi, had intervened and began the most violent fighting for hours against Haftar’s forces which finally pulled out.

The source also said that Haftar’s forces used Grad rockets and Mortars in their shelling, adding that some shells fell on civilian farms as well as residential areas and injured a family in Mashroe Al-Hadba.

“Haftar’s forces used Sudanese mercenaries from the Janjawid. They have lately become part of Haftar’s forces structure. There were also Russian mercenaries from Wagner Group, which many reports said it was backing up Haftar’s forces in their Tripoli offensive.” The source indicated.


Violent clashes kill 18 in Libya’s Tripoli

 A total of 18 people were killed and dozens injured in violent clashes here on Saturday between Libya’s UN-backed government forces and the east-based rebel army, according to military sources of both sides.

A military source of the government forces said that 11 of their troops were killed and dozens injured in the south of the capital.

“Seven of our troops were killed in the fighting axes of the airport road, Salah al-Din and Ain Zara (southern Tripoli), and dozens of others were wounded,” a source of the east-based army told Xinhua that

Ahmad al-Mismari, spokesman for the east-based army, said on Saturday that the army had launched a large-scale offense against the government forces in southern Tripoli.

Since early April, the east-based army has launched a military operation to take over Tripoli and overthrow the UN-backed government.


Libya: Journalists pay price of political conflict and military clashes

Clashes between Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the UN-backed government early April 2019 in Tripoli, have exacerbated divisions in the country. This has also impacted journalism and reporting, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Libyan TV channels broadcasting from abroad, founded by businessmen and political parties, face charges of receiving funds to support one party at the expense of another.

AFP quoted Mohamed Al-Najem, Executive Director of the Libyan Centre for Press Freedom, saying: “Due to the ongoing conflicts since 2014, the journalist in Libya is denied the right to exert the profession ordinarily” while referring to “32 cases where journalists were assaulted in Tripoli and its suburbs.”

Al-Najem stated that “every violent clash on the ground increases the rate of attacks on journalists, especially with the escalation of media discourse”, adding that “media outlets, especially those broadcasting from outside the country, are heavily involved in the escalation of violence and hate speech, fuelling acts of violence on the ground, which, therefore, exposes journalists working for these channels to risk.”

Journalist Jihan Al-Jazawi, who works for the Cairo based Libyan news agency Al-Wasat, said: “the journalist and media foundation bear a large part of the responsibility because they are biased and adopt certain political positions”. He noted that “journalists should not take political positions, especially amid the critical situation in Libya, as this will contribute to fuelling the conflict and deepening the rupture between warring parties.”

Al-Jazawi added: “Many media organisations operate with a political objective, and therefore put their journalists at risk.”

In Libya, there are two conflicting political forces, namely the UN-based Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a parallel government in the east supported by the elected parliament and the Haftar’s forces.

Journalists in Libya continue to be “intimidated and arbitrarily detained”, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report, at the end of last month. He confirmed that since the beginning of this year, one case of unlawful killing and more than a dozen arrest cases against journalists have been recorded, in addition to two journalists who were detained in the east of the country.

It is noted that Libya is far behind in international press freedom scales, ranking 162 in the 2019 ranking.