The latest piece from South Font on what’s been happening in Libya recently.
Published on South Front, Apr 10, 2019
During the last 3 days, intense clashes were ongoing between militias loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) south of the capital of Tripoli and in several coastal areas. Pro-GNA factions concentrated most of their best forces and efforts in the area of Tripoli International Airport. By April 10, they had recaptured most of the airport and the town of Swani from the LNA and advanced further to the south entering Al-Aziiziyah. This counter-attack was led by the Tripoli Protection Forces and Misrata militias. According to pro-GNA sources, they have captured 34 LNA service members with their vehicles and destroyed at least one LNA battle tank.
Some experts also expected the GNA forces to exploit the overextended LNA supply lines from the area of Benghazi in order to carry out raids in the rear of the advancing LNA force. Al-Qaryat and al-Shwayrif were noted as obvious targets. However, no military activity of this kind has taken place. Most likely, the reason is a lack of coordination among the pro-GNA forces, which are more like independent factions fighting for influence than a monolithic armed force.
In their own turn, the LNA exploited the GNA focus on the airport area by advancing on other fronts. In particular, LNA units entered Ayn Zara capturing several military facilities belonging to pro-GNA forces. Controlling Qasir Ibn Gsher and advancing along the road towards Tripoli, the LNA is in fact threatening to cut off the GNA force deployed near al-Aziziyah. Another direction of the LNA advance is the coastal area to the east of Tajura. The goal is to isolate Tripoli from its allies in Misrata. However, no significant progress has been achieved in this field.
At the same time, LNA units advanced near the GNA-held town of Sirte attempting to cut off communications between it and Misrata. The situation in the area remains unclear.
Both sides continue to use their existing air forces to deliver strikes on each other. The LNA Air Force recently bombed Tripoli’s Mitiga airport while GNA warplanes attacked LNA forces near Sirte.
The recent developments show that the LNA has an advantage over its pro-GNA rivals in terms of maneuverability and coordination, which it successfully exploits. Despite this, pro-GNA militias are a well-equipped force that has no shortage of supplies and even has an advantage in manpower at some parts of the frontline. In some scenarios, the LNA advance on Tripoli, which started like a kind of blitzkrieg, may turn into a prolonged siege with shaky chances of taking control of Tripoli anytime soon.