By Sami Zaptia.
London, 22 June 2018:
The official spokesperson for Khalifa Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA), Ahmed Mesmari claimed yesterday that the Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil port terminals had been recaptured from the Ibrahim Jadran coalition.
The recapture came after Hafter announced ‘‘zero hour’’ on Thursday, signalling the launch of operation ‘‘Sacred Sweep’’ to ‘‘liberate’’ the oil crescent from what he referred to as ‘‘terrorist’’ forces. The recapture was achieved with the aid of airstrikes provided by the LNA air force.
In a fluid situation, there have been counter claims by the Jadran forces that they had repulsed the LNA attack and recaptured their positions. However, pro-Hafter media outlets have shown images from within the allegedly recaptured Sida and Ras Lanuf.
The LNA also claims that the Jadran forces had fled the area and that the LNA was pursuing them. The Jadran forces claim that they had made tactical withdrawals, regrouping and preparing for a counter attack.
In a televised press conference last night, Mesmari claimed that the attack on the oil crescent was an attempt to destabilize the political situation in Libya prior to planned elections at the end of the year.
Both sides have claimed to have inflicted heavy losses on the other as well as destroying munitions and weapons and capturing prisoners of war.
It is noteworthy that the National Oil Corporation (NOC) has yet to confirm that it has returned its employees to the Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil ports to resume oil production.