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Libya unity government forces say repel Haftar attack on key town

Militias loyal to Libya’s Tripoli-based unity government said they repelled an attack Monday by forces of eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar on a strategic town southeast of the capital.

“Groups of pro-Haftar militiamen infiltrated areas near Gharyan and tried to advance under the cover of drones to retake the town,” Government of National Accord spokesman Mustafa al-Mejii told AFP.

“Our forces, with the support of the air force, repelled the attack before going after those who fled,” he added.

Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli in early April, setting up a rear command centre in Gharyan, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of the capital.

But GNA forces retook the strategic town in a surprise attack in late June, dealing a major setback to the strongman.

Eight GNA fighters were killed and 10 others wounded in the latest fighting, Mejii said, while Haftar’s ranks had suffered dozens of casualties.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army acknowledged it had lost fighters in the battle but did not give further details.

“All preliminary military missions were carried out as planned,” the LNA said in a statement.

“Completion of the plan to resume full control of Gharyan is imminent,” it said in a statement on Facebook.

Nearly five months after launching the offensive, Haftar’s forces remain locked in a stalemate against GNA fighters on the capital’s southern outskirts.

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