Forces allied with Libya’s internationally recognized government have seized the Al-Watiya airbase, a key military base on the outskirts of the country’s capital from fighters loyal to renegade military commander General Khalifa Haftar.
Military spokesman Mohamed Gnunu said in a Twitter post on Monday the forces of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) had taken over the entirety of the base near the Tunisian border.
The announcement by the administration of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj came after a month-long counteroffensive that has seen forces allied to it drive Haftar’s troops out of much of Libya’s western coast.
Haftar launched an offensive Haftar to take Tripoli in a lightning operation in April 2019, but his forces have been mired in fighting ever since resulting in a stalemated conflict that has killed more than 1,000 people.
It’s a symbolic success for the counter-offensive that the GNA has been mounting against Gen. Haftar’s forces for the past month.
The airbase has been an important asset for Gen Haftar for several years – its loss is another setback to his drive against the GNA from his power base in eastern Libya.
Libya a major oil producer, has been mired in chaos since 2011 when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising.
It is now split between two rival administrations: The GNA in Tripoli and the eastern-based House of Representatives allied withGeneral Haftar and his Libyan National Army.
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