Libya’s Struggling LNA Claims to Blunt Government Advance into Sirte
The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by renegade general Khalifa Haftar claims to have halted an advance into Sirte, a coastal city between Tripoli and Benghazi, by forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). The LNA has been in an eastward retreat for the past few weeks since being forced from positions they occupied around Tripoli as part of an offensive launched in April 2019. The GNA’s move on Sirte is part of a concerted effort to dislodge Haftar’s troops in the mid-coastal region. “This isn’t a battle for cities like Tripoli or Sirte. It is a fight for Libya, for freedom and democracy,” the Doha-based Al Jazeera news channel quoted Abdelmenaam al-Draa, a military spokesman, as saying. “We will continue east until we liberate all of Libya from the war criminal Haftar.” With fighting still taking place, a United Nations mission in Libya says both sides are using it as a mediator as part of indirect, video-conference-based talks on a cease-fire. Haftar is backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, while the GNA has been bolstered primarily by Turkey.