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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Eastern commander Haftar's forces attack checkpoint of rival government

( December 29) The Third Force of Misrata loyal to the UN-supported Government of National Accord(GNA) reports it has maintained control of the Gwirat Al-Maal checkpoint that is on the main road north from the southern city of Sebha.

An earlier report by the Libyan National Army(LNA) under the command of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar had claimed that the army had cut the road. The move was thought to be part of a plan to advance on the Tamenhint airbase near Sebha that is still controlled by Misrata forces. The LNA spokesperson's statement said that the checkpoint was under fire by fighters and tanks.
There was no response from the LNA to the Third Force claim that it had halted the LNA attack. The Force said that the attack was led by Mohamed Ben Nayel. Three weeks ago, Nayel took control of the Brak Al-Shatti military base after the Third Force pulled out. The Misratans also withdrew their forces from the center of Sebha much earlier this year, apparently as part of a redeployment to reinforce the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous forces leading the offensive against the Islamic State in Sirte. Nevertheless, a Third Force spokesperson said that the unit involved at the checkpoint had been sent to protect the south and would continue to do so. The clash was said to have lasted around three hours. No casualty reports have been issued.
The security situation in Sebha itself has been precarious as two main tribes the Alwad Sulaiman and Qaddadfa tribes renewed their feuding, with five deaths last Saturday including two children. At least 15 were injured. Although calm has returned the situation is tense. At the end of November, clashes between the groups saw 20 people killed along with dozens injured.
The Libya Observer quotes Third Force spokesperson Mohammed Gliwan as claiming that his forces are still in full control of the Gwerate Al-Mal checkpoint: “We clashed for some hours with armed groups and then everything remained the same as before under the Third Force’s control.” Gliwan claimed that there were efforts to destabilize the southern region and that the LNA had been putting out false news that they controlled the main road north from Sebha and the Tamnahent airport. Gliwan said that the Third Force defenders had destroyed a military vehicle belonging to the Haftar forces. Gliwan said that the Third Force was still in control of the Tamnahent Airport as well as surrounding towns close to Sebha. He said a state of emergency has been declared in the south to prepare for any further security challenges.
Air forces loyal to Haftar had also attacked the 9-19 Brigade camp in Hun town in the Al Jufra area earlier. This group is apparently part of the Benghazi Defense Brigades according to some sources. There appear to be more clashes between troops loyal to the GNA and those loyal to Haftar and the House of Representatives. A recent tweet reports: #Libya Tobruk government forces move to 65 km from Sirte. This brings Haftar forces close to the GNA forces in control of Sirte. Haftar has already threatened to march on Tripoli.
Although numerous attempts have been made to have Haftar sign on to the GNA so far no plan has been successful. There is however a meeting planned of the HoR on January 9th but no information has yet been released about the agenda. A recent tweet notes: #HoR members calling for an "Important" meeting to take place on the 9th of January in #Tobruk.


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