Libyan troops recapture key oil terminals from militia

2016-09-11 15:31
Conflict in Libya (File, AFP).

Conflict in Libya (File, AFP).

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Benghazi - Libyan forces loyal to a powerful general on Sunday recaptured two key oil terminals from militias in a surprise attack, according to officials familiar with the operation.

They said forces led by General Khalifa Hifter, who heads the Libyan National Army, took over the Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra terminals on Libya's Mediterranean coast and were battling militias at a third terminal, al-Zueitina.

The majority of Libya's oil exports went through the three terminals before a militia known as Petroleum Facilities Guards seized them about two years ago.

The return of the oil terminals could help Libya recover from the turmoil that has gripped the country since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi. The resumption of oil exports would also help address Libya's severe cash crunch.

The officials said there were no casualties among the attacking forces and that the militiamen at the three facilities did not offer much resistance.

The attack took place on the eve of a major Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, which begins on Monday.

"Many of them (militiamen) abandoned their weapons to escape or turned themselves in," said Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Mosmary, a spokesman for Hifter's forces. "We will continue to move till we secure the whole area."

Hifter's forces also moved against two areas in Benghazi that remain under militia control. Al-Mosmary said there was also little confrontation from the militiamen there, but that land mines were slowing down the advancing troops.

Hifter enjoys the support of several Arab nations, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, as well as European nations like France. He is allied with the parliament based in eastern Libya, which refuses to recognize a newly-formed, UN-backed government.

Libya has been split between rival parliaments and governments, each backed by a loose array of militias and tribes. Western nations view the UN-brokered government as the best hope for uniting the country.

Read more on:    un  |  moammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa

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