World, Africa

Pro-Haftar forces launch military operation in S. Libya

Operation is aimed at ‘preserving country's territorial integrity’, spokesman says

15.01.2019
Pro-Haftar forces launch military operation in S. Libya

By Walid Abdullah

TRIPOLI

Forces loyal to Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar on Tuesday announced the launch of a military operation in the country’s south, according to a spokesman.

At a news conference held in the eastern city of Benghazi, Haftar spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said the operation was aimed at “preserving Libya’s territorial integrity”.

The operation, he added, was also intended to "ensure the public’s continued ability to maintain and control Libya’s oil and gas sector”.

It is further intended to rein in rampant undocumented immigration -- which, the spokesman said, "poses a threat to national security" -- and eliminate remnants of the Al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups.

Al-Mismari urged members of the public to avoid parts of Libya known for sheltering "terrorists", citing the city of Sabha (located some 750 kilometers south of Tripoli) in particular.

Pro-Haftar forces have already reportedly arrived at the Sabha Airbase, known locally as the Tamanhant Airbase, in advance of planned operations along Libya’s borders with Sudan, Chad and Niger.

Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.

Two rival seats of power are now vying for supremacy in the North African country: a UN-backed “national unity government” in Tripoli and a breakaway government -- supported by a legislative assembly -- in the eastern city of Tobruk, to which Haftar is affiliated.

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