By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 19 March 2015:
There are reports of fierce fighting south of Zawia today with the Libyan National Army . . .[restrict](LNA) claiming that it is about to move against the town as well as against Ghariyan, both members of the Libya Dawn alliance.
The LNA’s Western Operations Room has called on residents in both places to remain indoors and refrain from any contact with what it referred to as “terrorists”, the term it regularly uses for members of Libya Dawn
Zawia hospital was meanwhile reported on emergency alert after receiving a number of dead and injured during the day while the local radio station put out appeals to thuwar (“revolutionaries”) to go and protect the town.
The fighting follows clashes earlier this morning spreading out from Bir Ghanem in which the LNA claims to have forced LD forces, including Zawia’s primarily Islamist Abu Obeida Brigade and the Farouq Brigade, into retreat. It says during the operation it captured Nasr village near Zawia as well as a large swathe of territory between Aziziya and Ghariyan, including Abu Sheiba and Qasarat. It says that it is now very close to Aziziya and Hosh Al-Seteen. Both, however, remain in LI hands, although this evening there were reports of an LNA airstrike on an LD camp in Aziziya.
The LNA also claims to have captured four tanks and 12 armed vehicle in today’s fighting as well as destroying a number of other vehicles.
Eight LNA fighters are reported to have been killed in the operation, four from Zintan, two from Rajban and two from elsewhere. The LNA meanwhile alleges that 25 LD fighters were killed and 40 wounded.
None of the claims have been verified. However, pro-Libya Dawn media have also reported heavy fighting in the area.
The LNA is now saying that it is now ready to move into Zawia and Ghariyan.
Sources in Ghariyan, however, say that the town is calm, that there have been no clashes in the area but that opposition forces have moved towards Abu Sheiba, some 35 kilometres to the north west of Ghariyan.
A week ago, Libya Dawn appeared to be achieving some success in the area with the capture of the Zintan-controled camp at Um Shawisha, south of Ajilat. However, this was reported retaken by Zintani forces a day or so later.
The reverses are being attibuted to Misrata pulling out a number of its forces for the fight in Sirte. [/restrict]