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Heavy fighting continues at Sidra; UNSMIL condemns Operation Sunrise attack

Fighting has continued today at Sidra between forces from Libya Dawn’s Operation Sunrise, who are trying to seize the oil terminal, and the Central Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) backed by Libyan National Army’s air power. According to Misratan sources, five Misratans were killed today in the clashes.

The spokesperson for the Central PFG, Ali Al-Hassi, denied reports that the terminal had fallen to Sunrise fighters. “I refute this allegation,” he told the Libya Herald. “We’re still in control of Sidra port and we will defend the facility from any intruder.”  Sunrise forces, he said, were still based at Ben Jawad but they were strongly armed.

Yesterday saw some of the fiercest fighting yet in the area since Operation Sunrise first launched its assault in mid-December.

At least 24 fighters died, 18 Misratans on Sunrise’s side according to the Misratan sources, and six members of the Central PFG, according to Al-Hassi. He disclosed that 23 other PFG members had been wounded yesterday.

Colonel Ahmed Mismari, the spokesman for the Chief of Staff, who said that Operation Dignity had launched a three-pronged attack on Sidra yesterday, has claimed that its forces suffered 34 dead and 48 wounded.

It has not been possible to confirm the figures.

For its part, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has “strongly” condemned Operation Sunrise for yesterday’s attack on Sidra.

“The attack constitutes a major break in the public pledges made by the main commanders to refrain from actions that could harm the political process at a time when the Libyan parties are working intensively to build bridges of cooperation that will contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Libya,” said today. “This attack also undermines efforts to reach a political solution and endangers the oil resources that belong to the Libyan people.”

The majority of Libyans want peace and stability, UNSMIL said, urging armed groups to comply with their commitment sto a ceasefire “and to disengage their forces as proof of their commitment to the political process”.

Less than three weeks ago, a major component of Operation Sunrise, the Misrata-based Central Libya Shield force, announced that it would join the ceasefire.

 

By Jamal Adel.

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