The focal point this week was on Friday when a group of former General National Congress (GNC) members backed by local militias stormed buildings used by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) declaring a coup. The occupation was led by former “Prime Minister” Khalifa Ghwell backed by militia opposed to the GNA as he took over the old GNC’s headquarters next to the Rixos hotel. The stand-off in the morning between the two groups ended peacefully when state council militia withdrew as their commitment was fragile due to unpaid salaries. UN backed Prime Minister Sarraj and members of the presidency council were meeting in Tunis at the time, called an emergency conference and ordered the arrest of the perpetrators.
Both the United Nations and European Union warned against attempts to create parallel institutions and reiterated their backing for the U.N negotiated deal that formed a Government of National Unity (GNA) in Tripoli, concerns were also raised from the United States offering its full support and stating that the buildings must be surrendered and returned to the GNA. Although the coup was fairly peaceful, tensions remained high around the government buildings as it triggered outbreaks of fighting between rival militias in which one person is known to have been killed and several wounded. Sporadic fire has continued over the past few days. Haithem Tajouri’s Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigade (TRB) has expanded its network of checkpoints set up immediately after the coup mainly in the city centre around Martyrs’ Square into which armoured vehicles have been deployed. Although the city has reported varying states of incidents, the general atmospherics have been good with people continuing their business.
On the economic front the outcome of a two-and-a-half-year legal battle between Goldman Sachs and Libya's $67 billion sovereign fund is a triumph for the Wall Street giant, which was vindicated despite embarrassing revelations about how some of its bankers conducted business. The National Oil Corporation oil output has jumped into 551 thousand barrels per day (bpd). NOC expects the oil production will be around 900 thousand bpd, which would be the highest rate of oil output since June 2013. This new leap in oil production comes after the NOC has restored control of the oil crescent following the seizure by Khalifa Hafter’s Dignity Operation forces of the oil terminals and fields last month.
Further to the east, Libyan forces recaptured the city's Cambo area in Sirte and swept out tunnels used by militants to hide and prepare ambushes, and seized a field hospital. They found charred bodies of militants hit by air strikes. The next phase is entering the Ghiza Bahriya district, supported by US airstrikes which carried out over 30 sorties in the past few days and 36 strikes earlier in this month. Casualties continue to rise as 14 pro government forces were killed and at least 20 injured on Friday when a car bomb detonated.
Benghazi is still witnessing the offensive of General Hafter’s Operation Dignity as they try to clear final pockets of militants. Five boys were injured when a rocket landed near where they were playing football outside Benina sports stadium on Friday. The rocket is thought to have been fired from Ganfouda where IS and Ansar Al-Sharia terrorists are holding out. The Shura council announced that 5 of its members had been killed from clashes west of the city with ISIS and LNA forces. There was minimal reporting of airstrikes this week as LNA jets conducted a strike in As Sabri.
An attack in Derna occurred when a LNA MiG23 warplane targeted a suspected Shura Council ammunition storage depot in the eastern part of the city. This was the first attack of its kind for many weeks and is believed to be in retaliation to the shelling of La Braq airfield. The previous day, LNA/AF helicopters performed air missions destroying vehicles in the region and fighter jets conducted an air strike on the seaport in Derna.
The south of Libya has remained quiet with continued smuggling crimes for financial gain. Sabha reports some activity with the kidnap of the local bank official.
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