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The Libyan National Army led by General Khalifa Haftar launched air strikes on Tripoli during the weekend as it continues its offensive against the capital of Libya that’s controlled by the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, Reuters reports.
Haftar's LNA is affiliated with the rival government in the east of the country.
The escalation of violence in Libya came as a somewhat of a surprise after the LNA and other armed groups in the Oil Crescent clashed earlier this year over control of Libya’s oil export terminals. Now, according to the Reuters report, the LNA had sent a warship to one of the terminals, Ras Lanuf. All four export terminals are under the control of the LNA.
The National Oil Corporation condemned the move along with a few others, including an attempt to requisition several tug boats and the capturing of an airfield.
“This illegal and irresponsible activity is a gross violation of our civilian mandate and must stop. These acts endanger workers, diminish partner confidence, and threaten our ability to maintain operations. NOC rejects all attempts to use corporation equipment and facilities for military objectives,” Reuters quoted NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla as saying.
Concern about the oil exports of Libya, on which the country relies almost exclusively for state revenues, has deepened in the three weeks since the LNA launched its offensive against Tripoli, after Haftar said Libya will soon have a single government.
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For now, there have been no reports of falling oil production, but Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported earlier today, citing a security source, that armed men had attacked Sharara, Libya’s largest oilfield. The attack, the source said, was unsuccessful and the LNA remained in control of the field.
According to the head of the High Council of State, an advisory body, Haftar’s forces are receiving military equipment from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, including fighter jets. The UAE has also sent troops to fight alongside the LNA, Khaled al-Mishri said.
The latest update from Tripoli is that the GNA forces are preparing to launch a counteroffensive against Haftar’s troops. "We are in preparation and within three days or so, there will be a full-scale attack and we will switch from a defensive to attacking position," GNA’s interior minister Fathi Bashagha said.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.