Khalifa Haftar's forces operating under the umbrella of the Libyan National Army (LNA) have captured the city of Sirte, located between Benghazi and Tripoli.
The city of Sirte, which had been taken under the control of forces aligned to the UN-recognised Tripoli-based Government National Accord (GNA) since 2016, has been captured by the LNA’s ground forces following an air bombardment campaign.
Sirte, which had been occupied by ISIS terrorists before GNA control and is also the birthplace of the former longstanding dictator of Libya, Muammar al-Ghaddafi, represents a significant strategic point in Libya as it lies on the front lines between lands held by the GNA forces and the LNA. The city is also near oil fields that are located in the centre of the country and along the coast.
The next significant urban centre after Sirte is Misrata, which is situated a few kilometres to the west of Tripoli, the capital of the country. It is suspected that the LNA will go on to target Misrata next.
The GNA stated that it withdrew its forces from Sirte in order to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. It is likely that the forces were not prepared to repel the LNA advance and would have been defeated in battle if they had attempted to hold onto their positions.
The LNA advance comes in the context of an offensive on Tripoli that has been ongoing since April 2019. It also comes after Turkey announced that it would send troops to reinforce the GNA-affiliated military forces. Nevertheless, the foreign support given to the GNA forces are yet to make their mark in the Libyan civil conflict.
Neighbouring Algeria, which has been experiencing significant political changes over the past few months and has a new President in Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has expressed its concerns with regards to developments in Libya. Images have been seen of Algerian troops amassing at the Libyan border in case of an escalation in the military situation across the border. Algeria continues to condemn foreign interference in the Libya conflict.