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UN-backed forces advance on Haftar headquarters as Tripoli offensive falters

Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) are continuing to gain territory as they advance towards General Khalifa Haftar’s main centres of command, namely the town of Tarhouna, located around 95 kilometres southeast of the capital Tripoli.

An army spokesman for the operation, Mustafa al-Mujai told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service on Thursday that GNA troops “are now on the outskirts of the Araban region” following a military operation on Wednesday.

“The fall of Araban is coming soon,” al-Mujai added.

A spokesman for a brigade loyal to Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA)  said on Wednesday night that they repelled an attack on Arban and neighbouring Ghout al-Reeh.

Al-Mujai dismissed the LNA’s statement, saying that Ghout al-Reeh is already under GNA control.

“Haftar no longer has strategic positions from which to protect his main positions in the region,” added al-Mujai.

Al-Arban is one of three towns surrounding Tarhuna, the strategic centre of Haftar’s operation to take Tripoli.

On Wednesday evening, GNA army commanders confirmed their forces were advancing on al-Arban, carrying out an operation in which they destroyed four armed vehicles and struck a helicopter carrying ammunition at Tarhuna airstrip.

Libya has been unstable since a 2011 uprising which overthrew longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In 2014, a civil war broke out after Haftar’s LNA launched an operation against rival militias in Benghazi.

In April this year, the LNA launched an offensive to conquer Tripoli, but five months on, his forces remain locked in a stalemate on the capital’s outskirts.

The fighting has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organisation.

Haftar’s forces are fighting militias backing the GNA, which is led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj.

The Tripoli government is backed by Turkey and Qatar, while Haftar enjoys support from Egypt, the UAE, and Russia. France has also reportedly aided Haftar’s forces.

 

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