Haftar Forces In Fierce Clash With GNA Fighters Battling For Sirte Airbase, EU Threaten Sanctions

Haftar Forces In Fierce Clash With GNA Fighters Battling For Sirte Airbase, EU Threaten Sanctions

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By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Tripoli: The Libyan (GNA) army dispatched several military vehicles Saturday to the west of Sirte province, while the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) said clashes took place at the facilities over the weekend.

A large number of military vehicles reached Abugrein as part of Operation Paths to Victory, which was launched to liberate the central city of Sirte and Jufra from putschist renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s militias, according to army sources.

Meanwhile, the NOC said Saturday there were clashes between an armed group loyal to warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar and guards near oil facilities in the Gulf of Sirte.

The NOC said clashes occurred between a pro-Haftar armed group called As-Saiqa and facility guards in the eastern Brega region.

Fighting took place a few hundred meters from oil tankers and armed group members ignored the safety of the oil facilities and employees.

The agency highlighted the importance of removing Syrian mercenaries, Sudanese Janjaweed militias and Russia’s paramilitary faction Wagner Group from oil facilities and urged a restructuring of the safety of oil fields under the umbrella of a professional, independent and disciplined security force.

In a written statement on July 17, the NOC also expressed deep concerns about “reports of the increasing likelihood of intensified military conflict, potentially extending to oil and gas facilities.”

Libya, with the largest oil reserves in Africa, can produce 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. However, production has fallen below 100,000 barrels due to interruptions by pro-Haftar militias in the past six months.

Since April 2019, Haftar’s illegitimate forces have launched attacks on Tripoli and other parts of northwestern Libya, resulting in thousands of deaths, including women and children.

The government, recognized by the U.N. as the country’s legitimate authority, recently achieved significant victories, pushing Haftar’s forces out of Tripoli and the strategic city of Tarhuna.

The new government was founded in 2015 under a U.N.-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed because of a military offensive by Haftar, who has been backed by France, Wagner, the UAE and Egypt.

Meanwhile, leaders of France, Italy and Germany said in a joint statement on Saturday they were “ready to consider” sanctions on foreign powers violating an arms embargo in Libya.

The statement did not directly name any foreign actors funnelling arms to Libya but multiple powers have been sending fighters and weapons, fuelling a bloody proxy war that reflects wider geopolitical rifts and divisions in the Middle East and within NATO.

“We … urge all foreign actors to end their increasing interference and to fully respect the arms embargo established by the United Nations Security Council,” the statement said.

“We are ready to consider the possible use of sanctions should breaches to the embargo at sea, on land or in the air continue.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said they, therefore, “look forward to the proposals the EU High Representative/Vice President will make to this end.”

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