12-17 Apr: LNA-GNA Conflict Escalates in the South

Apr 19, 2017 | Libyan actors

Various actors representing the Government of National Accord (GNA), including local mayors, denounced the use of the conflict in the South as a proxy battlefield between Libyan actors fighting for control of the country. GNA President Fayez Serraj called for the international community to ‘intervene’ in an effort to de-escalate the conflict. On 18 April, GNA Defence Ministry Spokesperson Brigadier Mohammed Al-Ghousri prophesied that Haftar’s end is imminent, adding that the GNA had requested a no-fly zone in southern Libya and that international forces would strike the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) forces soon.

Earlier in March, the LNA launched Operation Moving Sands with the aim of taking control of key strategic locations in south-western Libya with airstrikes. Recent action in this campaign includes the 12 April hit on the Teminhint airbase and the 13 April LNA strike on Third Force positions at the Ghenkis Company buildings in Sebha. On 16 April, the LNA air force targeted three vehicles from the Misratan Third Force on the road between Jufra and Sebha, killing and injuring a number of fighters including a Third Force commander Safwan Al-Gneidy who sustained serious injuries. The same day the LNA showered the Temenhint with no less than 60 howitzer shells within two hours.

On April 12, the GNA affiliated air force returned fire, conducting airstrikes against Brak Al-Shati airbase, located around 80km North of Teminhint. The airbase, currently used by the LNA to launch strikes on Temenhint and Jufra, is home to the LNA’s 12th Brigade. On 15 April, troops from South Libya Shield forces arrived at Temenhint airbase to reinforce the GNA affiliated forces.

The escalation of conflict between the GNA’s Misratan-led forces and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Haftar in southern Libya emboldens hardline anti-Haftar groups in Misrata, widening rifts, which had remained contained for the last three weeks. On 13 April, protestors stormed the local municipality, which coordinates security arrangements inside the city, again this time blocking the gates with bricks.