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Haftar forces attack important oil sites in Libya

Oil field in Libya [Javier Blas/Wikipedia]
Oil field in Libya [Javier Blas/Wikipedia]

The General Command of the forces of Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced a large attack on Sunday to control oil sites in the north-east of the country. “We launched a large attack against the Oil Crescent region,” said official spokesman Colonel Ahmad Al-Mismari. “The army was backed by air force jets.”

In response, the Libyan Petroleum Facilities Guard, led by Ibrahim Jadhran, called on the international community to provide protection for civilians in the Oil Crescent and in the east and south of the country in general against the “violations” by Haftar’s forces. According to Guard officials, after taking control of the Oil Crescent, Haftar’s forces displaced the local population, arrested other civilians arbitrarily and imposed “enforced disappearance” on some of them. The officials explained that all that the civilians wish now is to return safely to their homes.

The statement added that the oil facilities under the control of Jadhran are open to the National Oil Corporation to do its work. This was released two days after he announced that his forces had tightened their control over the ports of Sidra and Ras Lanuf, which are two of the most important in Libya for oil exports. The Petroleum Facilities Guard had previously controlled the oil ports for several years before losing control in September 2016 to Haftar’s forces.

Read: Libya’s NOC calls on armed faction leader to withdraw from oil crescent

The Libyan National Oil Corporation announced that it evacuated workers at Sidra and Ras Lanuf for their own safety. The Corporation estimated the loss of more than 240,000 barrels of oil, and pointed out that the entry of an oil tanker scheduled to arrive in Sidra on Sunday had been postponed. It demanded that Jadhran’s forces and their allies should leave immediately and unconditionally to avoid an environmental disaster and the destruction of the infrastructure.

The Oil Corporation called on all parties not to exploit the oil sector in their political rivalry, and keep the facilities out of all conflicts. The oil infrastructure, it added, is public property and represents the strength and future of all Libyans.

Libya continues to rely on oil revenues. Prior to the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011 it produced 1.6 million barrels per day. Since then, though, it has witnessed chaos, with two governments competing for power: the Tripoli-based and internationally-backed National Reconciliation Government, led by Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Tobruk-based parallel government in eastern Libya, backed by Haftar.

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