14 –20 October: Notorious commander al-Bija detained

Oct 21, 2020 | Libyan actors

On 14 October, the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), following the issuing of an arrest warrant by the Government of National Accord (GNA)’s Ministry of Interior (MoI), reportedly detained the commander of the Zawiyyan Coastguard, Abdurrahman Milad (also known as al-Bija), who is facing UN sanctions. The GNA said in a statement that the arrest followed an Interpol notice and an arrest warrant issued by the Attorney General. Al-Bija was apprehended by the MoI’s Security Directorate in Hay Andalus in Tripoli. Following the arrest, Zawiyyan militia forces began gathering on the fringes of western Tripoliand threated to turn off power supplies via the Zawiyya refinery base unless al-Bija was released.


On 15 October, in a statement by the Sirte and al-Jufra Operations Room spokesperson, Abdul Hadi Dara, the GNA accused LNA forces of firing four missiles at GNA units stationed west of Sirte, without causing any casualties. Dara said the strikes were fired at the Buerat region. The GNA claimed a state of readiness following alleged observations of LNA forces gathering in the western part of Sirte. The Libyan National Army (LNA) refuted the claims, with LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari demanding the GNA to cease ‘provocation’ and ‘lies’ about the LNA violating the ceasefire. The LNA has claimed instead that the GNA are intending to launch an assault of their own on the Sirte-Jufra ‘red line.’

On 16 October, the first flight from Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport arrived at Benghazi’s Benina Airport after more than a year of suspension. The Aviation Authority said in a statement that it was ‘also looking to resume flights from other airports in the East and South, to alleviate pressure on citizens’.

On 17 October, the LNA sent reinforcements belonging to the 128 Brigade in a large-scale show of force for a new southern campaign to ‘engage in full-scale military operations to secure the South and protect the country’s sovereignty and citizens.’ According to reports, the 128 brigade is to take full responsibility in securing all the town’s exits and entrances, and in cooperation with the Internal Security Department (ISD) will arrest all wanted and listed criminals.

On 18 October, 12 unidentified bodies were found in mass graves in Tarhouna. This followed the discovery of at least eight mass graves last June. A total of 86 bodies have been recovered in Tarhouna since the original graves were discovered, and 28 others in Tripoli, with some bodies reportedly showing signs of restraint and evidence of torture.

On 19 October, military leaders from Libya’s competing coalitions met in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations for the fourth round of dialogues within the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) framework. In a statement, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed its hopes that this round of talks would see the two delegations resolve all remaining issues in order to achieve a complete and permanent ceasefire. The meetings are expected to last until 24 October