By Sami Zaptia.
London, 9 July 2019:
The Khalifa-Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA) announced Friday that it was sending a “second wave” of “massive military reinforcements to resolve the Tripoli battle”.
The LNA announcement comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that as the Tripoli fighting enters its fourth month, the death toll has reached 1,048 dead, including 106 civilians, and 5,558 injured, including 289 civilians.
The LNA said that it’s troops and military reinforcements would be dispatched to participate in the “Flood of Dignity” operation to “liberate Tripoli from extremist and terrorist militias”.
The LNA War Information Division said that these forces have considerable combat experience in how to deal with “terrorist groups” having previously participated in the battles of “liberation” of Benghazi and Derna.
Pro Tripoli media and television commentators have criticized Hafter saying that his forces are floundering post their ejection from Gharian, and that the announcement to send reinforcements is an admission of defeat in the first phase of the Tripoli fighting.
Meanwhile, LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar, was quoted by eastern-based and pro LNA media as saying that the aim of his forces was to regain control of Tripoli and “liberate it from terrorism”, and not to control Libya’s oil, as the “Islamist terrorist movement” claims.
Haftar was also quoted as saying that his troops are trying to prevent the “terrorist militias” from benefiting from Libya’s oil revenues.
Hafter added that while the sale of Libya’s oil was within the jurisdiction of the (Tripoli-based) Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC), it was the responsibility of the armed forces (LNA) to protect Libya’s oil installations.
Meanwhile, Hafter’s Official Spokesperson, Ahmed Mesmari, was criticised yesterday for suggesting that all buildings in Tripoli with communications aerials would be a legitimate military target.
Mesmari stressed, in a follow up social media post, that it was buildings with military aerials that could be targets. He accused the Tripoli forces of hiding behind Tripoli civilian targets.
On the other hand, pro Tripoli forces aligned to the Faiez Serraj-led Presidency Council and Government of National Accord have claimed they have cut off main supply and reinforcement routes to Hafter’s forces south of Gharian and in Juffra, central Libya. This, apparently, has forced Hafter to use desert roads to supply his frontline forces.
On another note, the pro Tripoli Joint Operations Room announced that it has stopped Bani Walid airport from operating flights.
They accuse the airport of allowing Hafter to use the airport as a base for some of its air force operations.
Meanwhile, the Serraj Ministry of Interior has accused the Hafter Military Investment Authority of granting “forged visas” to Syrian passport holders to enter Libya through Benghazi’s Benina airport.
The Tripoli Ministry of Interior said that airlines flying between Benina and Damascus airports have security restrictions imposed on them by the Tripoli-based Libyan Foreign Ministry concerning issues of terrorism.
The Tripoli Ministry of the Interior also claimed that it has information that Haftar’s Investment Authority has transferred fuel to the Syrian regime in exchange for money and weapons.