Libya's Haftar forces recapture oil ports at Sidra and Ras Lanuf

Forces loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar say they have retaken key oil-rich areas in the country's east

Khalifa Haftar's forces drove Islamist militants out of Benghazi in 2016
Khalifa Haftar's forces drove Islamist militants out of Benghazi in 2016

Troops commanded by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar announced on Tuesday the recapture of two key oil installations, as fighting raged in Tripoli where a rival government has struggled to assert its authority.

In eastern Libya, the army of the national parliament recaptured two oil ports, Sidra and Ras Lanuf, from the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) – a mix of militias that includes Islamists – that seized them earlier this month. Forces loyal to Haftar mounted a day-long assault by land, sea and air in order to retake the oil export terminals. The BDB then handed them over to the Petroleum Facilities Guard, affiliated to the UN-backed unity government based in Tripoli.

"The armed forces... have liberated the whole of the oil crescent," pro-Haftar forces spokesperson Ahmed al-Mesmari said.

He added that 10 fighters of Haftar's forces were killed and that rival fighters of the BDB were being chased back to their barracks.

Haftar is allied to an administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk, which is challenging the authority of the UN-backed government.

Libya remains regionally split with two centres of power that politically oppose each other, and a myriad of rival armed groups that the country's two governments cannot control.

Haftar's forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), have been battling Islamist and other militias in the area since forcing them out of much of the country's second city, Benghazi, in February 2016.

Extremist groups, including ISIS, gained a foothold in Libya after NATO-backed forces ousted veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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