Khalifa Haftar, eastern commander, captures Al Jufra desert area from unity government
Eastern commander's forces capture the Jufra area including a key airbase as opposing factions including those associated with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) withdrew.
|This development leaves the eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and forces loyal to his Libyan National Army in control of the south central desert area of Al-Jufra and also the Sebha region according to Reuters. Haftar does not recognize the GNA and many militia who support it he regards as his enemies, although he has recently praised some Tripoli militias who drove out some of Haftar's strongest opponents from Tripoli. He may be attempting to divide militias supporting the GNA. Reuters suggests that taking Sebha and Al Jufra areas may be a key step in the LNA's stated goal of moving to Tripoli. Haftar may have his sights on other towns such as Bani Walid and the city of Misrata before attempting to take Tripoli. An LNA spokesperson has said that LNA forces will gradually move towards Bani Walid that is almost 350 km (215 miles) northwest of the Jufra area. The Jufra area is about 500 kilometers (300 miles) southwest of Benghazi and around the same distance southeast from the capital in the west of Tripoli. As all this is going on, Martin Kobler the UN envoy to Libya, and others are still talking about a political solution and Kobler promises a dialogue soon. By the time the dialogue actually gets underway, Haftar may be close to achieving a military solution so the GNA will be forced to surrender to his demands. About a month ago, Haftar met with Faiez Serraj of the GNA and the two agreed to calm tensions and raised hopes for a political deal. There was no common statement or any actual deals signed. Since than Haftar has continued to try to carry out a military solution.|