Libya unity rivals seize final port in 'oil crescent': military

2016-09-14 07:15


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Tripoli - Forces opposed to Libya's unity government on Tuesday seized a fourth oil port, completing their takeover of vital installations in the North African country's "oil crescent", a military source said.

Colonel Muftah al-Muqarief said his forces, who are loyal to controversial General Khalifa Haftar, seized the port of Brega "without any fighting", after having already taken control of Ras Lanuf, Sidra and Zuwaytina since Sunday.

"The entire oil crescent region is now under our control," Muqarief told AFP about the area along Libya's northern coast.

The officer said Haftar's forces took control of Brega - between Ras Lanuf and Zuwaytina - largely thanks to "mediation involving residents and town elders".

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with rival authorities and militia vying for control.

Fresh blow

Control of Brega will be a fresh blow to the Government of National Accord which has been struggling to assert its authority.

The Tripoli-based GNA is opposed by an internationally recognised parliament based in Libya's remote east near the border with Egypt.

Haftar, 73, who sees himself as Libya's saviour after battling jihadists out of most of second city Benghazi in the east, backs the parliament which has refused to grant the GNA a vote of confidence.

The Brega takeover comes hours after the United States and its major European allies - which back the GNA - condemned Haftar's offensive, echoing remarks by UN special envoy Martin Kobler.

"I call for the respect of UN Security Council Resolution 2259 which recognises the Government of National Accord... as the sole executive authority in Libya," Kobler said Monday.

Oil is Libya's main natural resource with reserves estimated at 48 billion barrels, the largest in Africa, but production has plummeted since 2011 as the country plunged into chaos.

Read more on:    muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa

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