LNA loses Watiyah's Oqba bin Nafea Airbase to militias western Libya

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Mon, 18 May 2020 - 01:02 GMT

Members of Libyan National Accord Government (GNA) militias ride in military vehicles on the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Hani Amara

Members of Libyan National Accord Government (GNA) militias ride in military vehicles on the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Hani Amara

CAIRO – 18 May 2020: Tripoli militias took over Oqba Bin Nafea Airbase located in Al Watiyah area western Libya from the Libyan National Army (LNA) on Monday, according to Russia Today that citing Sky News.

In April, LNA Spokesperson Ahmed al-Mesmary stated that the militias had been attempting to take over the airbase as it can be the substitute of Mitiga Airbase if taken over by the Libyan Armed Forces that lie few kilometers from it.

In the same month, the LNA downed 60 Turkish drones piloted from Mitiga Airbase. In December, the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey signed two MoUs on defense and gas drilling in the Mediterranean.

As a consequence, Turkey brought into Libya thousands of Syrian mercenaries to fight in the ranks of militias protecting the Tripoli-based GNA, which is an interim non-elected government that is recognized by the United Nations.

Turkey also brought Turkish military experts and officers to command the operations rooms of militias, which have been controlling only Tripoli and Misrata since the LNA restored Sirte in January.

Fighting has been ongoing as the LNA has been encircling both cities and advancing in their suburbs while militias have been targeting its concentrations.

The LNA destroyed in April a number of vehicles and equipment in Assa district as militias had been mobilizing to enter Al Watiyah district.

On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Turkey had transported into Libya until present 9,000 Syrian mercenaries, and that a large portion of them were receiving training on Turkish territories. Of those, 298 were killed in battles, including 17 minors.

On May 6, the LNA declared the launch of Ababil Birds operation without any mention of details. On the following Day, the LNA declared that the Air Force struck militias concentrations and munitions warehouses in Abou Grein town eastern Misrata, and farms used by militants in Qadahiyah district southern Abou Grein.

A military source revealed to Youm7 in April that the militias aim for weakening Tarhuna town located southeastern Tripoli by continuous targeting as it is the main base of the LNA western Libya.

Tarhuna town lying to the southeast of the capital, Tripoli, was struck by more than 20 missiles that hit houses and civilian sites.

As they attempt to enter Tarhuna, the GNA militias cut electricity, water supply, and communications to the town that has been subject to blockade for weeks.

Nevertheless, the town's residents are still backing the Libyan Armed Forces against Tripoli's militias, and dozens have volunteered to join the military and take part in liberating the capital.

Tarhuna is home to dozens of tribes that support the rehabilitation of the state institutions, particularly the army and the police, that were demised in the aftermath of the assassination of late Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi when the civil war broke out in 2011.

In April, General Commander of the LNA, Field Marshel Khalifa Haftar, delivered a speech calling upon the Libyan people to topple the GNA's Presidential Council led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. That is in response to the crimes committed against the Libyan people, and forfeiture of the country's sovereignty by bringing in Syrian mercenaries.

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