Libya's Haftar loses main base south of Tripoli in surprise blow

Libya's Haftar loses main base south of Tripoli in surprise blow

"All of Gharyan is under our control", Col. Mohamed Gnono told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Tripoli.

The LNA launched an attack on Tripoli in April and fighting has been going on since then without any significant advances by either side. "The operation was carried out with (few) losses and in less than 24 hours".

Dozens of LNA rebels were killed and at least 18 were taken prisoner, he added.

A vehicle and structure is damaged from fighting in the region of Tajoura, east of the Libyan capital Tripoli, Saturday, June 15, 2019.

Hifter's offensive against Tripoli has been widely criticized.

Ever since the fighting started in April, Libya's National Oil Corporation has been warning that hostilities could threaten production, and this time, the situation could be worse than at the start of the civil war in 2011.

His Libyan National Army (LNA) has not yet confirmed the loss, and details are still emerging.

Virginie Collombier, a political science professor with the European University Institute, said the fall of Gharyan is "a major blow" to Hifter's forces, which have ceased to make any military advances for nearly six weeks.

Reuters reported the news quoting witnesses, noting the takeover of the town of Gharyan is a serious blow to Haftar's forces, which are affiliated with the rival eastern government of Libya. Gharyan, about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) south of Tripoli, has been the main conduit for LNA supplies destined for its front line soldiers.

The Tripoli-based Presidential Council in charge of the government said in a statement Gharyan was fully "liberated".

The Tripoli-based government released a statement late on Wednesday, saying their militias have retaken Gharyan and vowing to pursue its liberation campaign until the "aggressors are purged from all areas".

The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia and varied foreign powers have lent sturdy beef up to Haftar, who has portrayed himself as a extremely effective pick who can raise balance to Libya and crush Islamist militants.

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