1 May – 7 May: Haftar advises forces to push hard during Ramadan

May 7, 2019 | Libyan actors

On 5 May, the Libyan National Army (LNA) released an audiotape in which its leader, Khalifa Haftar, advises his forces to push hard and to “teach the enemy a greater and bigger lesson than previous ones.” The statement comes as the conflict moves into the Islamic month of Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer starting on 6 May. Haftar stated that Ramadan did not stop him from fighting to take control of Derna and Benghazi in previous years, and as such would not be a reason for him to stop fighting for Tripoli. Moreover, Haftar reiterated the LNA’s rhetoric framing the fight as “jihad” or struggle against terrorism and therefore a righteous fight.

After five weeks of fighting, the Libyan National Army (LNA) has not managed to penetrate Tripoli beyond its southern outskirts. According to recent reports the conflict has killed 187 people, injured 1,157, and displaced some additional 50,000 people. Clashes continue in the Wadi al-Rabia area, Ain Zara, Zatarna, al-Khalit, Aziziyya, and in and around the Tripoli International Airport (TIS).

On 2 May, the GNA spokesman Muhanned Younis and the chairman of the Presidential Council’s Emergency Committee held a press conference where they indicated the GNA would prevent the LNA from achieving their goal, adding that the GNA supported a civil state and opposed a militarised one. The GNA spokesperson stated that GNA Western Military Region forces were now moving to a new offensive operation stage. Younis also stated that the GNA was re-activating an agreement with the Turkish government, and sought civilian and military support.

On 7 May, the LNA claimed to have shot down a Misrata Air College Mirage F1 jet in the al-Hira area south of Tripoli. There are pictures circulating of a non-Libyan pilot, reported to be Portuguese, who has been apprehended. These reports have not been verified at the time of writing.