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Libyan Army Establishes Control over Ras Lanuf, As Sidr Cities | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ras Lanuf is one of four key oil terminals in Libya’s central ‘Oil Crescent’. (AFP)

Cairo – The Libyan capital, Tripoli, once again witnessed an intensified guerilla war, while the Libyan army managed to regain control over the country’s northern port cities of Ras Lanuf and As Sidr.

Clashes mainly took place in residential areas to the west of Tripoli after the city’s security directorate announced it initiated a security plan in cooperation with the central security and the capital’s bureau of investigation to secure several areas.

Clashes erupted in Gurji, Hay al-Andalus, and the sports area.

The Tripoli security directorate issued a statement Tuesday vowing to cleanse the central Hay Al-Andalus area from the outlaw groups, which are hindering the work of police and other security agencies in the area. The security forces asked residents to “exercise caution”.

Amid fears, residents of Dreibi, Hay al-Islami, Gergaresh and Ghout Shaal blocked the entrances to the areas, demanding that armed militias leave the capital. Citizens stayed home and did not go to their work or schools, while medical reports stated that at least four citizens were injured during the clashes.

No official details were given about the number of deaths.

Ministry of Interior Investigative Bureau described the clashes as an uprising from the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade against armed militias, saying weapons were fired at random.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayiz al-Sarraj did not comment on the clashes, while head of UN Support Mission in Libya Martin Kobler called for an immediate cease of fire.

“I call for immediate ceasefire in Tripoli. Civilians at grave risk in ongoing clashes. Repeated violence in Tripoli again demonstrates the need for united, professional security forces to protect the Libyan people,” tweeted Kobler on his official account.

Military spokesman Colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari stated Libyan military forces seized control of key oil terminals, Ras Lanuf and As Sidr.

“The first stage, which focused on taking control of the Oil Crescent area and surrounding villages, is over,” he said.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ras Lanuf and As Sidr are now under total control “after the enemy retreated to areas beyond Bin Jawad.”

Head of military media bureau said the army, navy and marine executed joint attacks on Ras Lanuf. He pointed out that leader of the Libyan National Army units General Khalifa Haftar issued his directives to initiate the attacks.

The air force announced that Mig 21 jets bombed Benghazi troops, destroying all of their vehicles.

“The Air Force had a great impact in this battle as we destroyed their main operation posts where their leaders were stationed,” Mesmari said.

The Benghazi Defense Brigades are made up mainly of a mix of militants who were forced out of Benghazi in eastern Libya as a result of a military campaign against Islamists launched by Haftar in 2014. The brigades controlled Ras Lanuf, which also includes a port and an airport.

In September, the army took control of the four oil ports in northeast Libya, which handles the majority of the country’s oil imports.

Sarraj’s government earlier announced that it has nothing to do with the military escalation in the Oil Crescent area, but condemned the dangerous development that “dissipates any hope of ending the bloodshed.”

Earlier last week, the government gave its directives to the guard force commander to be in charge of the areas under Haftar’s control.