Conflict

LNA takes control of large parts of southern Libya from armed militants

North Africa

The most recent operations by the Libyan National Army (LNA) to take control of lands occupied by militants and terrorists in southern Libya were launched in mid-January.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar is continuing its operations in southern Libya against armed militants, which were launched in January. Following its latest operation on the city of Ghadwa, the LNA was greeted by the residents who expressed their happiness with the liberation of their city from armed militants.

The LNA entered the city in their armed cars, showing off the militants that they captured during their attack.

“We are better than them [the militants], they kill officers and civilians while we do not,” said a member of the LNA. “We will take him to the hospital and then hand him over to the General Command,” said the member while pointing to an arrested militant.

According to some Libyan military sources, the LNA will be intensifying their operations in the coming weeks to capture large swaths of the country’s southern border areas from militant control.

The LNA’s spokesperson, Brigadier General Ahmad al-Mismari, who announced the beginning of the operations on January 15th, recently stated that the army has now captured the city of Sabha fully. Sabha is considered the largest city in the country’s southern regions.

Earlier this year, the LNA announced that this operation is an attempt to protect the country’s southern border and fill the vacuum that was left following the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. Before the operations, residents of the south were continually being terrorised by Chadian militias who would enter through the porous border and kidnap citizens. The area also became a haven for criminals, smugglers and drug dealers who took advantage of the lack of security. Furthermore, with the defeat of ISIS militants in the country’s northern areas, rumours began circulating that the remaining ISIS militants are regrouping in the country’s southern borders.

While the LNA used this as a pretext for its operations, others have pointed out that the first destination for the LNA was the Sharara Oilfield, the country’s biggest oilfield located in Libya’s southwest. Observers say that the this was part of the LNA’s attempt to gain control over the country’s oilfields, after their successful capture of the Libyan Oil Crescent last year.

Despite both of these claims, Libyans continue to express their happiness that armed militias will no longer be able to terrorise them from living daily.