Militias loyal to General Khalifa Hafter in Libya have suffered heavy losses in the ongoing battle for the capital, Tripoli. At least 53 fighters were killed last Friday in Al-Washka to the west of Sirte, including senior officers. Another 16 were killed in southern Tripoli and eastern Rashfana, while 12 others fell in a raid at Al-Wattia Air Base to the west of the capital.
The casualties arose after Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) fought back against Haftar’s forces which have broken the ceasefire repeatedly, killing many civilians in Tripoli. The GNA used drones supplied by Turkey to bomb the militias while ground troops advanced. Among the dead are Major General Ali Sidi, and Commander Saber Al-Mutahar.
GNA forces destroyed or captured armoured vehicles and equipment from the rebel troops. Local sources also report that prisoners were taken by the GNA at Al-Wattia before the army withdrew under fire from foreign Arab air forces which back Haftar.
It is a week since Haftar’s militias suffered another setback when GNA forces attacked Al-Wattia Air Base and captured 27 militia members, including pilots and technicians. The stated intention was to paralyse the base rather than control it. Senior officers loyal to Haftar were killed, including Ahmad and Muhammad Al-Haddad Al-Rajbani; other victims have not been identified.
Medical and military sources among the Haftar forces involved in the fighting have claim that only 70 mercenaries and militia fighters have been killed up to now. Casualties were taken to the Ibn Sina Hospital in Sirte, where medical facilities were overwhelmed treating the wounded soldiers and fighters from the Sudanese Janjaweed militias supporting Haftar. The mercenaries’ wages are apparently being paid by an unnamed Gulf State.