Military ramp-up around Libya's Sirte as Haftar's forces claim advance

Military ramp-up around Libya's Sirte as Haftar's forces claim advance

March 11, 2019 - 19:59
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Written By: AbdulkaderAssad

After claims by the forces under Khalifa Haftar's command to have been positioned on the outskirts of Sirte or at least nearby it, a remarkable military buildup has been reported in the city that is located in central Libya.

Sirte Protection Force (SPF) announced Sunday the state of emergency after the advance of Haftar's self-styled army forces near southern Sirte.

The SPF added in a statement that it had tasked patrols to be present in areas 90km to south and wast of Sirte, saying Haftar's forces advance is unacceptable provocation.

"The advance of Haftar's forces is a security violation of the administrative borders of Sirte." SPF's commander Al-Naas Abdullah said.

Haftar's forces withdrew from different areas in southern Libya leaving behind a security vacuum and heading toward central Libyan areas like Al-Jufra in an attempt to advance with a new military operation in the west - especially in Tripoli.

While a source close to Haftar's forces believed that the movements near Sirte aim to be some sort of test of abilities to the forces there, Haftar's general command said brigadier general Abdelsalam Al-Hassi arrived in Watya airbase - 140km away from Tripoli.

Al-Hassi held a high ranking meeting with western military officers, adding that he arrived in Watya with Edris Madi coming from Al-Jufra airbase.

"Al-Hassi had been discussing the developments to take place in western Libya before he went to an oilfield in Hamada town." The general command added.

Former Chief of Staff Yousef Al-Mangoush described Haftar's movements as "dubious" and that his fighting terrorism slogan is "nonsensical."

"Fighting terrorism is not with tanks and artillery but with tactics to be approved by the interior ministry. What will Haftar's tanks do to the densely-populated Libyan capital." Al-Mangoush added.

He said that the numbers of forces in west Libya are way more than Haftar expects and they won't allow his forces to enter the western region or Tripoli and if they insisted, the region will be plunged into a destructive war.

"Haftar's claims of advancing on Tripoli are just a political card, but military should be separated from political as in the west, which harbors over two thirds of army forces." He remarked.