Haftar Loyalists Admit to ‘Redistribution’ after Libyan Airbase Changes Hands
A spokesman for forces loyal to a renegade Libyan general admits that they have withdrawn from areas in and around the capital Tripoli. Ahmed al-Mismari said on Tuesday that the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) of Benghazi-based Khalifa Haftar had conducted the “redistribution and repositioning” of units, “disengaging from some crowded residential areas.” The announcement came a day after fighters under the control of Haftar’s nemesis, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), claimed to have taken a key airbase some 80 miles southwest of Tripoli. The Watiya airbase had been used by Haftar’s forces for staging attacks on Tripoli as part of a 13-month offensive that has seen the fall of important oil fields and medium-sized cities. Mismari did not contradict the GNA’s claims about Watiya, saying only that its abandonment was part of the LNA’s future plans. The GNA had been groaning under Haftar’s onslaught, although much of this has changed since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent forces to Libya to assist in braking the offensive.