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Libya: Haftar Forces Prepare to Deter New Attack on Oil Crescent Area | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Spokesman of Libyan National Army (LNA) colonel Ahmed Al Masmary gestures during a news conference in Benghazi, Libya, March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Cairo- Amid a state of anticipation of a new attack by armed militias on the Oil Crescent area, which is controlled by the Libyan National Army led by Marshal Khalifa Hafter, at least five people were killed in clashes in Suq al-Khamis and al-Hira areas southwest of Tripoli airport.

Meanwhile, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame was supposed to brief the UN with the situation in Libya on Monday evening, one month after taking office.

“Haftar is aware of the possibility of armed militias launching a new attack on the vital oil crescent area,” high-level Libyan sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Sources described it as part of an attempt to “change the military situation in the country by militias, some of which belong to the city of Misrata and are supported by the GNA,” which is headed by Fayez Sarraj.

Haftar, who is considered the strongest man in the eastern region of Libya, has controlled the oil crescent area after his forces deterred at least two attempts in the past year and early this year by armed militias to regain control over it.

Spokesman for the Libyan National Army Ahmed al-Mismari told Asharq Al-Awsat that the army has observed what he described as “great mobilization” in the outskirts of the city of Sirte and in its western part.

He said that terrorist groups in these areas have been mobilizing people, “whose destination is expected to be Gulf of Sidra to control the ports and oil installations and then move towards Benghazi and Derna.”

Notably, Haftar forces control Benghazi, but Derna is under the control of militias, some of which are affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Mismari stressed that the Libyan National Army’s forces are on high alert. “The operations rooms were given orders to act freely and open fire at any time needed”.