By Walid Abdullah
Forces loyal to Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament have captured a strategic airbase in the country’s south following the withdrawal of forces loyal to the country’s UN-backed unity government, according to a local official.
Pro-Tobruk forces, led by military commander Khalifa Haftar, assumed control of the Tamanhint Airbase on Thursday after pro-government forces withdrew from the area without a fight, Bilqassem Said, governor of the nearby Al-Bouanis municipality, told Anadolu Agency.
One week ago, pro-government forces attacked another airbase in central Libya -- the Birak Airbase -- during which 141 people were reportedly killed.
The deadly attack prompted an outcry among local residents, including tribal chiefs and civil society groups, who demanded that government forces withdraw from the airbase.
In March, Haftar's forces launched “Operation Quicksand” with the aim of capturing the Tamanhint Airbase and the Sebha Airbase (also in central Libya) with a view to establishing control over Libya’s Fezzan region.
The Tripoli-based unity government responded by launching its own operation last month and has since managed to retake several areas captured by Haftar’s forces.
Reporting by Walid Abdullah; Writing by Mahmoud Barakat