11 Libyan soldiers killed in clashes with Haftar loyalists

11 government soldiers killed by Haftar’s forces near Misrata as Libya ceasefire is broken
3 min read
28 January, 2020
Libya's fragile ceasefire is broken once again as forces loyal to rogue military commander Khalifa Haftar continue their assault on Libyan government positions.
The fighting in Libya continues [Getty]
Libya continues to balance on a knife edge and the latest fighting has killed at least 11 government soldiers in the western city of Misrata, despite regional peace efforts led by Algeria.

The troops were killed in fighting with forces loyal to rogue military commander Khalifa Haftar.

Hundreds were also wounded on Sunday as government loyalists defended the strategic town of Abugrein near Misrata.

A ceasefire had been brokered between the two sides earlier this month, however this isn’t the first time the fragile truce has been violated.

A Moroccan national was killed and several others injured on Saturday evening after Haftar loyalists launched rockets into civilian areas west of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

Government forces repelled an advance by Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army into the village of Abu Qurayn on Sunday, part of the militia’s push to seize control over Masrata, the major urban center northwest of the country, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site reported.

Photographs circulating on social media purport to show damaged equipment and vehicles belonging to the LNA in the hands of government forces.

Clashes around the villages of Al-Qaddahiya and Zamzam, located south of Abu Qurayn, are ongoing as of Sunday afternoon, as the LNA continue to erode a crumbling ceasefire agreement brokered earlier this month.

Read More: Haftar at the gates: How Libya's crisis forced Algeria to come out of diplomatic hibernation

A spokesman for forces allied with the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), Mohamed Gnounou, said in a statement posted online that Haftar's repeated violations rendered the joint Turkish and Russian cease-fire "useless".

Pro-government forces in Misrata [Getty]


Why Misrata?

Misrata is Libya's second largest city and is a stronghold for GNA-allied groups resisting Haftar, who are also essential in the defense of the country’s capital.

Forces loyal to the rogue warlord have laid siege to Tripoli since April 2011.

Jalel Harchoaui, a Libya expert at The Netherlands Institute of International Relations who spoke to AP, sees the plans to seize Misrata as a diversion tactic aimed at drawing GNA-allied groups based Tripoli back to their hometown, weakening the capital's defenses and rendering the city vulnerable to a final assault.

Haftar forces are gaining ground. Last month he captured Sirte, located 370 kilometers east of Tripoli, in what was a major blow to the Tripoli-based administration.

Sunday's clashes came hours after the United Nations slammed several countries for their "continued blatant violations" of an arms embargo on Libya, which fly in the face of recent pledges made by world powers at an international conference in Berlin, held last week.

The United National Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed dismay at the number of flights that had landed in Libyan airports over the last 10 days, providing militiamen with "advanced weapons, armoured vehicles, advisers and fighters".

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