Prime minister of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, announced on Thursday the launch of Operation Peace Storm, in response to the continued attacks carried out by Haftar’s forces.
This was announced in a statement posted on Facebook by the Libyan prime minister’s media office.
On Wednesday, the GNA forces took control of strategic locations south and west of Tripoli, most notably Al-Watiyah Air Force Base, as part of a wide operation launched to defeat Haftar’s forces, with regards to the continuous shelling of the capital’s neighbourhoods, and repeated violations of the ceasefire.
“We are a legitimate, civilian government that respects its obligations to the international community, but is committed primarily to its people and has an obligation to protect its citizens, within the framework of the right to legitimate self-defence and within the limits of international law,” Al-Sarraj avowed.
He added: “We reiterated that we will respond to the continuous violations of the armistice, and we have already said, and are still saying, that we will not stand by idly. So, this is precisely what happened as orders were issued to respond forcefully to the repeated terrorist attacks on civilians.”
Despite announcing on Saturday its adherence to a humanitarian truce to focus on efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Haftar’s forces continue to violate the ceasefire by bombing various locations in the capital.
Al-Sarraj explained that: “The planned bombing of residential neighbourhoods in Tripoli did not stop during the armistice and caused civilian casualties, including children and women, as proof of taking the UN Security Council resolution lightly and underestimating the decisions of the Berlin Conference, in addition to disregarding the lives and security of Libyans.”
The Al-Watiyah Air Force Base (140 kilometres southwest of Tripoli), which the GNA forces have earlier seized, is the largest military base in the region stretching from western Tripoli to the Tunisian border. The air base, formerly controlled by forces loyal to Haftar since 2014, was transformed at the time to a centre for the leadership of Western army operations, and used in the bombing of Tripoli and various fronts in the western region.
Haftar’s forces are violating the ceasefire on a daily basis by launching attacks on Tripoli, as part of a military operation that has been ongoing since 4 April, 2019.