6 March – 12 March: LNA take over checkpoint south of Sirte initiating state of alert for Sirte security forces

Mar 12, 2019 | Libyan actors

On 6 March, Mohamed Sallak, the spokesperson for the Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, held a press conference to give further details about the so-called ‘Abu Dhabi Dialogue’, which occurred between Serraj and Khalifa Haftar on 27 February. Sallak stated that the event was a consultative meeting, with no official binding agreements or statements. This assertion followed Serraj’s meeting with western municipal mayors on 5 March, where he reiterated the broad outcomes of the meeting, stating he agreed with Haftar on the civilian oversight over the army, to shorten the transitional phase, and to move quickly towards general elections.

On 10 March, UN envoy Ghassan Salame appeared on a Libyan TV station and confirmed that during the Abu Dhabi meeting, both Serraj and Haftar reaffirmed their commitment to a civilian state and civilian oversight over the army. Salame also clarified that the UN roadmap and National Conference was delayed but still on track and will hopefully be held by the end of March in a Libyan city yet to be decided.

On 10 March, the Libyan National Army (LNA) took control over the Abu Hadi Checkpoint, south of Sirte. The incident follows reports that the LNA had also taken over the Gardabya Airbase and had increased their presence in the southern and eastern areas of Sirte – in Hun and Wadi al-Amra respectively.

On 10 March, the GNA aligned Sirte Protection Force (SPF) announced a state of emergency in response to the incident and mobilised additional forces east and south of Sirte. The SPF claimed that the LNA had not merely taken control of the checkpoint, but had mobilised to the area, filmed their presence and then retreated.

The incident follows the SPF concluding on 7 March their sit-in at the Sirte municipal council headquarters following guarantees from the GNA’s Finance Ministry that their delayed salary payments would be paid. The week prior, the SPF had said it would close down Sirte should the payments not be made. This followed the strengthening of fortifications in Sirte between the Giza neighbourhood and the Commercial Bank junction.

On 7 March, the Military Information Division of the Libyan National Army’s 73 Brigade stated that it had observed ‘hostile elements’ making their way through to the Murzuq area from Mabba (which is south of Taraghin) to Gauat and the Wadi-al Haya area, south-east of Murzuq. On 10 March, the LNA’s Sebha Military Region stated that it was deploying the 160 Infantry Regiment to secure the Murzuq area. Likewise, the Tariq bin Zayed Battalion was also re-deployed to Murzuq. This follows reports that the LNA’s Air Force had undertaken reconnaissance flights over Murzuq.

On 9 March, Chadian Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Ould Mohamed Abali Tabbawi held a meeting with military representatives from the Libyan National Army and Tebu tribes to organise security arrangement to secure the common border between Chad and Libya.