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Libya: Haftar commander killed in clashes with GNA forces

March 30, 2020 at 4:18 pm

Libyan Army forces seen as part of “Operation Peace Storm” – Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) against the forces Khalifa Haftar in Tripoli, Libya on March 27, 2020 [Amru Salahuddien / Anadolu Agency]

A commander in the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) loyal to General Khalifa Haftar was killed yesterday along with one of his aides in clashes with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) forces in Al-Washka, Sputnik has reported. They were named by a military source as LNA commander Salem Driaq and Gaddafi Al-Sadai. Driaq was the commander of the Sirte operations room.

The LNA has been attacking Tripoli for nearly a year, hoping to capture the capital where the internationally-recognised GNA is based. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia have been supporting Haftar’s forces, while Turkey and allied Syrian fighters are backing the GNA.

Diplomacy has foundered, with the latest round of talks in Geneva making no progress towards a political solution last month. Moreover, the UN envoy to Libya resigned for health reasons. Before he quit, Ghassan Salame warned that the arms embargo on Libya was being violated routinely, with foreign weaponry and fighters arriving in the country on both sides. Last Thursday, the European Union said that it would launch a new naval and air mission to stop further breaches of the embargo.

Read: GNA forces repel attack by Haftar militias south of Tripoli

Huge explosions then shattered Tripoli from midnight onwards, with artillery fire echoing around the city on Friday morning, said local residents. Fierce clashes were reported in the west of Libya, between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, in the capital’s southern suburbs, and in the frontline region between Sirte and Misrata to the east of Tripoli.

An LNA military source said fighting had resumed at dawn on Friday to the west of Sirte, a port city in central Libya captured in January. The media office for pro-GNA forces did not comment.

“The UN is alarmed that hostilities have continued in and around Tripoli despite the announced humanitarian pause,” the international organisation said on Friday.