Middle East

Haftar sends military forces to Sirte and violates the ceasefire in Libya

Putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s militias have deployed 80 military vehicles near Sirte, while a large warship dropped anchor in the Ras Lanuf Port controlled by the militias, Libyan officials said Wednesday. 

According to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) spokesperson Mohammed Qanunu, the Haftar military convoy departed the city of Jufra and is heading to Wadi Al-Lud as Haftar‘s forces violated the cease-fire five times in less than a month.

On Aug. 21, the Libyan government announced a cease-fire and ordered the military to stop operations against Haftar’s militias.

However, on Aug. 27, the Libyan Army announced the first breach of the cease-fire by the militias, which fired more than a dozen Grad rockets at army positions west of Sirte.

Meanwhile, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced that a warship has been staying in the Ras Lanuf port since Saturday.

The Ras Lanuf area is part of the region which holds around 80% of Libya’s oil reserves.

Stephanie Williams, the U.N. acting Libya envoy, last week denounced what she called “blatant” ongoing violations of the arms embargo in effect on the war-wracked country while a new U.N. report brought to light enhanced Russian support for Libya’s warlord.

The report revealed that Russia has stepped up its logistical support for the private military contractor Wagner Group in Libya with some 338 military cargo flights from Syria in the nine months leading up to July 31 to aid Wagner fighters backing eastern-based Haftar.

Haftar sends military forces to Sirte and violates the ceasefire in Libya

Haftar’s militias have been blockading Libya’s vast oil reserves, causing around $8.22 million in losses in around seven months.

Oil production has plunged by around three-quarters since Haftar launched a blockade. The blockade has also cut off revenue for state institutions operating across the country.

The NOC, which is responsible for the extraction, processing, distribution and export of oil in Libya, had announced on July 10 that they loaded oil on a vessel in Sidra Port and that production and exports would resume in the oil facilities.

However, two days later, in a message posted on his Twitter account, Haftar militia spokesperson Ahmad al-Mismari said they would continue to block oil production until their “conditions” are met.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

GNA was founded in 2015 under a U.N.-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to Haftar.

The United Nations recognizes Fayez Sarraj’s government as the country’s legitimate authority as Tripoli has battled Haftar’s militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

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