Haftar's Libya forces take Gaddafi hometown, as Turkey rushes in troops to support Tripoli government

Haftar's Libya forces take Gaddafi hometown, as Turkey rushes in troops to support Tripoli government
Rogue general Khalifa Haftar's forces said they seized Sirte airport on Monday.
2 min read
06 January, 2020
LNA forces have now entered Sirte [Getty-file photo]
Libyan fighters loyal to rogue general Khalifa Haftar have taken the city of Sirte, a former Islamic State group stronghold and hometown of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army militia are locked in at fierce war with the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli and have launched an assault on Sirte, which was re-captured by pro-government troops from IS in 2016.

"Sirte has been totally liberated... from terrorist groups," Ahmad al-Mesmari, spokesman for Haftar's forces, said on television following an operation that lasted just hours.

After Haftar failed to make a breakthrough in his bloody assault on the Libyan capital, his forces have now switched their attention to the city of Sirte.

On Monday, Hafar's forces said they had captured Sirte airport and moving their way into the city.

"[The LNA is] steadily advancing towards the heart of Sirte" after seizing control of Ghardabiya airport on the city's outskirts, Haftar-linked social media said on Monday.

Turkey has rushed troops into the country to bolster pro-government forces, as Libya turns increasingly into a regional proxy war with Egypt, the UAE and Russia backing Haftar, while Turkey and Qatar support the GNA..

Turkey President Tayyip Recep Erdogan said that troops were being deployed to Libya to support the Tripoli government.

Erdogan said the Turkish soldiers would not be there to fight but to "to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy", according to Al Jazeera.

"Our soldiers' duty there is coordination. They will develop the operation centre there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now."

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj headed a delegation to meet Turkish foreign ministry officials in Algiers to "discuss ways to resolve the difficult situation" in Libya.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected to join the meeting over the next two days.

Libya has been embroiled in internal fighting and civil war since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 following a popular uprising against his decades-long brutal rule.

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