This reporting week on the political front has seen the Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister, ‘’Fayez Sarraj’’ attend the UN General assembly meeting in New York. Twenty-two countries with the EU, the UN, the league of Arab Emirates and the Arab Union signed a joint statement reiterating their support for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). As well as urging a full de-escalation and avoidance of any further hostile actions following the recent tensions within the country. It also highlighted the need for Libya to decide their own future without foreign interference.
During the General assembly meeting and despite the recent takeover of the oil ports by the House of Representatives (HoR), backed Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander, ‘’Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’’ Fayez Sarraj said that he was open to holding a meeting with the Field Marshal. Fayez stated that ‘’I am willing to talk to anyone for the sake of solving the problems of Libyan’’ he also stated that ‘’there are many obstacles of course and one of them is trying to have a unified Army under the control of the political body’’.
Misrata led Al Bunyan Al Marsous fighters (BAM) continue to push forward with their offensive operations on the last remaining Daesh positions within Sirte. BAM forces operations room continues to report that Daesh forces are contained within a square kilometre block within district three, however they are still coming up against heavy resistance from Daesh militants, in the form of Suicide Vehicle Bourne Improvised Explosive Devices (SVBIED), snipers and road side and booby traps, Improvised Explosive Devices (IED`s). BAM fighters have been receiving American air support as part of “Operation Odyssey Lightning” since 01 August 2016. As of 21 September 2016 and according to United States Africa Command centre, the US has carried out 161 airstrikes in Sirte. The “precision” bombings often strike enemy fighting positions, weapons, Daesh militants’ VBIEDs, as well as other Daesh militant targets.
The capital Tripoli has remained relatively quiet throughout the reporting week with small outbreaks of criminal activity due to continued cash shortages. An upsurge in kidnappings has taken place, with a University professor being kidnapped outside of his house and two Civil Registry Authority engineers being kidnapped in the Sug il Juma area. A month after it was reopened, the coast road heading west from Tripoli was again closed, this time by forces from the Brigades of Fursan Janzur and Zawia Kilani. Both groups closed it in protest due to robberies and abductions at the camp 27 checkpoint which they blamed on the Wirshefana militias.
Whilst in the south Fezzan region of Libya, it was reported and confirmed that two Italians and one Canadian had been kidnapped between the towns of Ghat and Tahala near the border of Algeria early on Monday. Information on which group carried out the kidnap are not known at this stage. The two Italians are believed to have been working on a runway project at the airport in Ghat, whilst the Canadian had been working on installing an aviation system. Libyan officials reported that a team of five investigators had arrived in Ghat and subsequently met with authorities to try and ascertain their whereabouts.
Benghazi has seen another power play move by the Libyan National Army (LNA) to take control of levers of power within the country. Major General Abdul Razzaq Al Nazhouri, governor of the area from Tobruk to Ben Jawad, and as ordered by House of Representatives president Ageela Saleh, dismissed officials within the state electricity company GECOL. The General then replaced them with a seven-man committee who are answerable to himself. The order followed a rise in power cuts in Benghazi and the east of the country and the LNA knows that they could be politically damaging.
The LNA have continued to carry out offensive operations by means of airstrikes, artillery sorties and small arms fire as they continue to clear out the final pockets of Ansar Al sharia and Daesh militant positons within Benghazi. Field Marshall Khlaifa Haftar has once again stated that ‘’Benghazi is weeks away from being liberated’’, something that has now been stated on many previous occasions.
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