Khalifa Haftar’s forces in Libya capture strategic coastal city of Sirte

The forces of General Khalifa Haftar have entered the city of Sirte, which is half way between the capital Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya’s east

Renegade warlord Khalifa Haftar's forces have entered Sirte, a strategic city along the Libyan coast
Renegade warlord Khalifa Haftar's forces have entered Sirte, a strategic city along the Libyan coast

General Khalifa Haftar’s forces have captured the city of Sirte as his self-styled Libyan National Army makes gains, according to reports from Libya.

Haftar’s forces entered the city unopposed after a brigade that formed part of the city’s defence force defected, the Libya Observer said.

Sirte lies on the Libyan coast, half way between the capital Tripoli and the second largest city, Benghazi. Sirte lies strategically in an oil-rich area.

Haftar is backed by the administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk and is opposed to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, led by Fajez Sarraj.

Haftar’s forces commandeer large swathes of Libya, mostly desert areas, and have besieged Tripoli since April last year.

The fall of Sirte came as Turkey started sending troops to the North African state in support of Sarraj’s government, which commands little authority on the ground.

According to the Libya Observer, Haftar's forces carried out sporadic air attacks on Sirte in the past weeks, using drones supplied by the United Arab Emirates.
Just three days ago, a military academy south of Tripoli was hit in an airstrike that killed 29 cadets and injured 23. The Serraj government blamed the attack on foreign aircraft supporting Haftar’s forces and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

The UN mission in Libya condemned the attack on the academy.

Libya has been in a state of chaos since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011 with various militias jockeying for territorial control and influence. The country has two administrations; the UN-recognised government based in the capital, and a breakaway administration in Tobruk that is aligned with Haftar.

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