13 May – 19 May: GNA takes over Watiya airbase

May 20, 2020 | Libyan actors

On 18 May, Libyan National Army (LNA) forces stationed at Watiya left the airbase at 04:30 local time. This was due to a barrage of aerial attacks by Government of National Accord (GNA) -Turkish drones. At 08:00, the GNA Western Military Region forces, under the command of Usama Juwaili, entered the base. A few hours afterwards, Juwaili declared that his forces had completely captured Watiya airbase from the LNA. There was no recorded fighting at the airbase. Reporting indicates that the LNA forces had largely withdrawn prior to the GNA forces arriving at the location. The defenders had been under siege for weeks and as well as enduring heavy aerial attacks in the days prior.

The same day GNA-aligned Turkish drones targeted suspected LNA fuel trucks several kilometres north of the LNA-controlled Jufra airbase. In addition, GNA-aligned Turkish aerial drones destroyed two anti-aircraft batteries near Sirte airport as they moved westward.

On 19 May, the LNA spokesperson, Ahmed Mesmari, made a statement indicating that LNA forces would be withdrawing from the southern Tripoli frontlines as the month of Ramadan comes closer to the Eid al-Fitr celebration. Mesmari used the words “returning to previous positions.” This follows unconfirmed local reporting that LNA fighters have been pulling back from the Ain Zara frontlines. Coinciding with these events in the early hours of 19 May, GNA aligned forces peaceful entered the town of al-Asabiaah, southwest of Gharyian, while also entering the towns of Tiji, Badr, and al-Jawsh, east of Rujban and Zintan, with no reported clashes.