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East Libyan forces say they have retaken oil ports

East Libyan forces said they had regained control of the major oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider today from a rival faction that seized them earlier this month.

Military spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari told Reuters the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) had taken back the ports and was pursuing fighters from the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) towards the town of Ben Jawad, about 30 kilometres west of Es Sider.

The claim could not be independently verified.

Read: Libyan group is ready to fight anyone stealing the country's oil

The BDB's advance on Es Sider and Ras Lanuf on 3 March set off a fresh round of fighting for control of the ports in Libya's Oil Crescent, a strip of coast southwest of Benghazi, raising fears of an escalation of violence and a reversal for the OPEC member state's efforts to revive its oil output.

Akram Buhaliqa, an LNA commander in the nearby city of Ajdabiya, said ground, air and naval forces had been deployed in today's offensive.

Human rights violations

He said BDB fighters shut off the coastal road between Es Sider and Ras Lanuf as they tried to halt the LNA's advance.

Another military official confirmed earlier that the LNA had carried out airstrikes near Ras Lanuf.

The ports are two of the largest in Libya, with a combined potential capacity of about 600,000 barrels per day, but both were badly damaged in previous rounds of fighting and were operating at a fraction of pre-conflict levels.

Read: East Libyan forces resume strikes against rivals near oil ports

The LNA retained control of Brega and Zueitina, the two ports closest to Benghazi.

The United Nations said today the latest fighting around the Oil Crescent had been marked by human rights violations including unlawful killings and arbitrary detentions.

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