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Central Libya offensive (2020)

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Central Libya offensive
Part of Libyan Civil War (2014–present)
Central Libya Offensive (2020).svg
Map of the offensive
Template:LeftlegendTemplate:Leftlegend
Date6 June 2020 (Template:Age in months, weeks and days)
Location
Sirte, Al Jufra Airbase, Central Libya
Result Ongoing
Belligerents

Libya Government of National Accord

 Turkey[1]

Libya House of Representatives

 Russia[2]
 Egypt[3]
Commanders and leaders
Libya Fayez al-Sarraj
(Prime Minister)
Libya Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Bait al-Mal[4]
(Sirte-Jufra operations room commander)
Libya Khalifa Haftar
(LNA supreme commander)
Template:Campaignbox 2014 Libyan Civil WarTemplate:Campaignbox Libyan Crisis (2011–present)

The Central Libya offensive, officially known as Operation Paths to Victory, is a military offensive in Libya launched by the forces of the Government of National Accord, to take the city of Sirte and Al Jufra Airbase from the House of Representatives backed by the Libyan National Army. The city of Sirte is considered strategically important because of its close position to oil facilities, which give it control over Libya's oil and gas shipping ports. The Al Jufra Airbase is strategically important for the GNA, due to it central position to Fezzan and denying the Libyan National Army air superiority over Central Libya.[5]

The campaign began on 6 June 2020,[6] two days after the conclusion of the 2019–2020 Western Libya offensive, a failed attempt by the Libyan National Army to capture Tripoli.[7]

Background[edit source | edit]

A civil war has been ongoing in Libya since 2014, and after 2016 the country was mainly divided between the Tobruk-based House of Representatives in the east, and the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and western Libya. General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army provided military support to the House of Representatives. The rival governments both claim to be the legitimate government of Libya. The GNA is internationally recognised by the United Nations Security Council as the government of Libya, though the LNA receives support from several countries, including Russia, United Arab Emirates, and France. By 2019 the LNA controlled more than half of Libya, while the GNA mainly controlled Tripoli and a few other areas.

In April 2019, Haftar's forces launched an operation to take control of the capital Tripoli from the GNA and unite all of Libya.[8] After fourteen months of fighting, the GNA held Tripoli and pushed the eastern forces out of the city by 4 June 2020.[7] After that the GNA military launched a counteroffensive against Haftar's forces. The town of Sirte and the nearby Al Jufra airbase are considered essential to take control of Libya's oil ports along the Mediterranean Sea, and the airbase houses MiG-29 fighters and Su-24 bombers provided by Russia to Haftar's forces.[2]

The campaign[edit source | edit]

5 June

The GNA recaptured much of the territory in northwestern Libya that was taken by the LNA during the 2019–20 offensive on Tripoli.[9]

6 June

GNA forces launched an offenive to recapture LNA–held Sirte.[10]

7 June

GNA forces enter Sirte. However, an LNA counterattack using drones, aircraft and artillery drove the attackers back,[11] inflicting heavy casualties on GNA fighters and Syrian rebels.[12][13] According to Libyan and Bulgarian sources, an airstrike launched from an unknown aircraft, possibly Mig-29s, destroyed an Turkish military convoy, leaving casualties (including Turkish servicemen and Syrian rebels) and stopping the GNA advance.[14][15]

9 June

The GNA rejected a ceasefire proposal by Egypt.[1]

11 June

The LNA was able to slow down the advance of the GNA towards Sirte, using air power.[16]

International reactions[edit source | edit]

On 21 June, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that Sirte and Jufra are a "red line" for Egypt, and that Egypt will militarily intervene if the GNA and its Turkish allies take the area from the LNA.[17][18] A Turkish government spokesman said that any permanent ceasefire requires and LNA withdrawal from Sirte. Saudi Arabia has also shown its support for Egypt's position,[19] along with Jordan.[20]

The GNA condemned the Egyptian president's statement, saying that it is "a hostile act and direct interference, and amounts to a declaration of war". Aguila Saleh Issa, the speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, supported the statement from Sisi and Egypt's assistance against the GNA.[20] Issa told the Egyptian media: "The Libyan people are officially asking for Egypt to interfere with military forces if the necessities of maintaining Libyan national security and Egyptian national security require this."[21] GNA Prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj vetoed an Egyptian proposal to have an Arab League meeting to discuss the situation in Libya.[3] President Sisi inspected the troops on Egypt's western border with Libya and said that the Egyptian army is prepared to intervene.[22]

On 22 June, French president Emmanuel Macron condemned the role of Turkey in supporting the GNA, calling it a "dangerous game".[23] On the same day, news emerged that Syrian militia would be sent to Libya to fight with LNA forces.[24] Also on the same day, United States Africa Command commander General Stephen J. Townsend and U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland met Fayez al-Sarraj and his delegation in Zuwara near the Tunisian border.[25] On 24 June, Italy's foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, met Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli to stress "the need to resume the political process and end foreign interference".[26]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Libya's GNA forces press ahead after failed truce offer by Egypt. Al Jazeera. Published 9 June 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Road to Libya's liberation passes through Al-Jufra base. Andalou Agency. Published 23 June 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Egypt Warns Forces Fighting for Libya's Tripoli Government to Stay Out of Sirte. Voice of America. Published 20 June 2020.
  4. After talks with GNA, US delegation draws a ceasefire line beyond Sirte. The Weekly Arab. Published 23 June 2020.
  5. "Why is Sirte everyone's 'red line' in Libya?". Al Monitor. 20 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  6. "Libya's GNA says offensive launched for Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte". Middle East Eye. 6 June 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Eastern forces quit Libyan capital after year-long assault". Reuters. 2020-06-04. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
  8. Abdulkader Assad (4 April 2019). "Khalifa Haftar declares war on Tripoli". The Libya Observer. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  9. "Libya's Haftar pulls back east as Tripoli offensive crumbles". Reuters. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  10. "Libya's GNA says offensive launched for Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte". Middle East Eye. 6 June 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  11. Template:Web cite
  12. Tayea, Hassanin. "Libya's LNA Inflicts Severe Losses on Turkish Soldiers, GNA's Militias in Sirte". Sada Elabad English. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  13. "Turkish-backed offensive in Sirte turns disastrous despite initial success". Al masdar. 7 June 2020. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  14. "MiG-29s destroyed a huge Turkish convoy of military and GNA forces (video)". Bulgarian Military. 7 June 2020. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  15. LNA shoots down Turkish drone west Sirte
  16. Libya: Haftar's forces 'slow down' GNA advance on Sirte. Published 11 June 2020.
  17. "El Sisi: Egypt prepared for military intervention in Libya". The National. 22 June 2020.
  18. "Egypt threatens military action in Libya if Turkish-backed forces seize Sirte". Financial Times. 21 June 2020.
  19. Libya conflict: Sirte-Jufra ‘red line’ set to be next major flashpoint. Al Arabiya. Published 22 June 2020.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Libya: GNA calls Egypt's military threat 'declaration of war'. Al Jazeera. Published 21 June 2020.
  21. Libya: Aguila Saleh urges Egypt to intervene if Sirte attacked. Al Jazeera. Published 24 June 2020.
  22. Egypt readies army to intervene in Libya ‘if necessary’. France24. Published 21 June 2020.
  23. "Warring Libyan sides mobilise for battle as Turkey slams France". TRT World. 23 June 2020.
  24. "وثائق مسربة تكشف تورط نظام أسد وروسيا بتجنيد السوريين كمرتزقة في ليبيا (صور)". orient-news.net (in Arabic). 22 June 2020.
  25. "U.S. Africa Command supports Department of State, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland meeting in Libya". AFRICOM. 22 June 2020.
  26. "Italy's foreign minister meets Libyan PM in Tripoli". Yahoo!. 24 June 2020.