A member of the Libyan National Army flashes a victory sign next to a burning tank after clashes to recover oil ports in Ras Lanuf, Libya June 21, 2018. Picture taken June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer A member of the Libyan National Army flashes a victory sign next to a burning tank after clashes to recover oil ports in Ras Lanuf, Libya June 21, 2018. Picture taken June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Libya: LNA foils Qatari plot, reclaims oil crescent

Fri, Jun. 22, 2018
CAIRO – 22 June 2018: Libya’s military commander Khalifa Haftar called for a "sacred invasion to cleanse the land and restore justice,” according to an audio message to his soldiers in eastern Libya on Thursday.

Haftar announced that the “zero hour has passed to crush the enemy,” in reference to militia leader Ibrahim Jadhran’s armed groups which captured two eastern oil ports on June 14.

“The Libyan army successfully liberated the oil crescent region which equals the state of Qatar five times,” said LNA spokesperson Ahmed Al-Mesmary according to Dubai-based Al-Arabiya channel on Thursday.

Mesmary stressed that the LNA has foiled a Qatar-led plot schemed against Libya.

Haftar announced the ‘sacred invasion’ operation to reclaim the two oil ports after a week of clashes that had damaged the infrastructure of Libya’s eastern oil crescent. Staff were evacuated from the terminals whose closure for one week has led to production losses up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a total national output of little over one million bpd, according to Reuters.

Media reports confirmed the death of 15 LNA soldiers and the injury of 25 military personnel during the recapture operation.

"After a couple of days we will resume, we start our operations hopefully," the National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Mustafa Sanalla told reporters in Vienna.

Libya has been wracked by conflicts since the ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011. Since then, rival governments and militias have been competing for authority and control of key infrastructure, particularly oil facilities, the lifeblood of Libya’s economy that had a production rate of 1.6 million barrels per day before 2011.

On Wednesday, the U.S. condemned the assault against the oil crescent and the “ongoing violence that has damaged Libya’s vital oil infrastructure and disrupted oil exports.”

According to UN resolution 2146 (2014) on the prevention of illicit crude oil exports from Libya, the NOC based in Tripoli is the only body with the authority to export oil from Libya.
 
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