8 – 14 April: GNA captures Sabratha

Apr 15, 2020 | Libyan actors

On 13 April, armed groups aligned to the Government of National Accord (GNA) claimed to have captured the pro-Libyan National Army (LNA) towns of Sabratha, Surman, al-Ajilat, al-Jamil, Qirdalin, Zelten, al-Aassa and Mellitah in north-western Libya. The LNA also lost control of critical facilities and bases within these towns, including military headquarters and weapons caches. The intensity of the fighting varied, with heavy clashes in the Surman and Sabratha areas reportedly lasting 6 hours, while the GNA-aligned forces allegedly entered al-Ajilat peacefully. The GNA’s Minister of Interior, Fathi Bashaagha, has released a statement claiming that the civilians in these towns will not be left to suffer in a security vacuum. The LNA has yet to comment on the events.

On 12 April, the LNA undertook an assault on the Abu Grein axis and managed to temporarily capture Abu Grein, Qaddahiya and Zamzam from GNA-aligned forces. The LNA attack had significant aerial assistance from at least two drones and a Mi-35. Following the loss of territory, Misratan forces mobilised for a counter-attack on the same locations, recapturing all the territory they had lost and conducting heavy attacks on al-Weshka.

On 6 April, an armed group stormed the Man-Made River Authority (MMRA) station at al-Shuwayrif and shut off the pipeline, effectively cutting off the water supply to Tripoli, Bani Walid, Tarhouna and Misrata. On 13 April, the al-Shuwayrif municipal council said in a video statement that they would allow the water flow to Tripoli to resume for a short period, following pressure from international and humanitarian organisations. At the time of writing, it is unclear if the water supply has indeed resumed or not.

In addition to the water and power crises in Tripoli and the surrounding region, shelling has been reported throughout the last week in Ain Zara, Sabaa, Salahadeen, and Tajoura. On 12 April, shelling near Misrata hit an ambulance, killing a paramedic. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), it is the eighth attack on health facilities in Libya in 2020.

On 13 April, reports emerged on social media claiming that the GNA has been attempting to bribe the city of Bani Walid to pledge its support for the GNA.  The alleged incentives include personal bribes to the city’s senior figures and stakeholders, as well as additional funds for its municipality and pledges that Bani Walid will get to maintain its autonomy, both in governance and in security.