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Libya’s Oil Hub Braces for Clashes as Forces Move In

Libya’s Oil Hub Braces for Clashes as Forces Move In

Libya’s northern city of Sirte, considered the gateway to the country’s most productive oil region, is bracing for battle as hundreds of army vehicles owned by the Government of National Accord (GNA) on Saturday inched closer to the area. The internationally recognized GNA, based in Tripoli, has already announced its plans to retake Sirte from rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), after fending off its assault on the capital and driving it towards the Egyptian border. Last week, Turkey, which supports the GNA, declared no cease-fire would be reached before the city of Sirte was recaptured. Also on Saturday, a new Pentagon report was released revealing the extent of Turkish involvement in the ongoing Libyan civil war. According to the US Defense Department, during the first three months of 2020 alone, Turkey enlisted nearly 4,000 mercenaries, offering cash and citizenship, to fight alongside GNA troops against the LNA, itself propped up by Russian, Egyptian and UAE soldiers. Countries on both sides are jockeying for position and control of the oil-rich country, using semiofficial warrior groups and proxy armies. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has already warned he would intervene immediately on the LNA’s behalf if Sirte were to be attacked, arguing that “any direct intervention in Libya has already become legitimate internationally.”

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