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Libya interim government gain control of airbase from Haftar forces

20 May 2017, 11:19 | Taylor George

Libya interim government gain control of airbase from Haftar forces

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The facility, near the government-held city of Sabha, was seized after heavy fighting Thursday with forces of Operation Dignity, a faction of the rebel Libyan National army led by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said the base was targeted because the attackers thought the 12th Brigade were away after attending a major military parade near Benghazi.

Egypt condemns the "brutal terrorist attack" that occurred in south Libya on Thursday which killed dozens of Libyans, a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Friday which was reported by state news agency MENA.

Both the GNA and defence ministry earlier condemned the assault and said they had not ordered any such action.The unity government, a rival administration in eastern Libya and their respective backers are battling for influence in Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

According to him, among the victims of the attack were also civilians who worked at the air base, or were nearby.

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Forces loyal to Mohammed Ben Nayal of Dignity Operation - a United Nations designated terrorist group - had seized Brak Al-Shati Airbase in December 2016 and allegedly started using it to launch attacks on Taminhint Airbase to expel the Third Force from south Libya.

The UN envoy to Libya earlier on Friday voiced alarm at reports of the attack on the base, 650 kilometres (400 miles) south of Tripoli. The servicemen were not able to offer much resistance as they were unarmed, LNA spokesman Ahmad Al-Mimari said in a statement on Friday, as cited by AFP.

An informal truce had been reached this month over the matter, after Gen Haftar met Fayez al-Sarraj, the UN-backed prime minister.

"I am outraged by reports of significant numbers of fatalities, including civilians and by reports that summary executions may have taken place", Martin Kobler said.

Also on Friday, a auto bomb south of Benghazi killed a prominent tribal leader linked to the LNA along with five other people. The country is plagued with unrest and political division.



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