The troops of the internationally recognized government in Libya say they are preparing for an early battle for the coastal city of Sirte. „The outbreak of the struggles for the liberation of Sirte is safe and is imminent,“ said its spokesman Mustafa al-Majai the dpa today.
The goal is to restore Sirte and the oil fields that are currently controlled by General Khalifa Haftar’s troops.
Sirte is located on the Mediterranean Sea, about halfway between Benghazi in the east and Tripoli in the west, where the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj is based. The city is of great importance for access to the oil reserves of the resource-rich country.
Haftar’s forces had captured Sirte in January as part of their Tripoli offensive. The government troops, which are supported militarily by Turkey, pushed them back a few weeks ago and advanced to Sirte.
„The ultimate goal is to wipe out insurrection“
Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) initially did not comment. Al-Majai said an unprecedented number of loyal fighters had gathered in front of Sirte. „The ultimate goal is to put an end to the uprising and to extend (government) control over the whole of Libyan territory.“
Haftar receives support from Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. His president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had described a possible attack on Sirte as a red line and had prepared his military for an operation in Libya. The parliament in the east of the civil war also supports Haftar and called on Egypt to intervene militarily in Libya.