Anti — 11 July 2016

Jul 11, 2016 | Libyan actors

On 6 July, the Libyan National Army (LNA) suffered major blows, with the death of 11 soldiers in a suicide attack, and the downing of its ace Mig-23 pilot, Major Idris Hamed Al-Obeidi.  Obeidi, an iconic LNA fighter pilot, was killed when his plane crashed during a mission against jihadists in Ganfuda.  On 10 July, Tariq Al Saiti, another iconic LNA solider who specialized in de-mining and was a highly respected figure in Benghazi, was killed.  These setbacks have dampened the high hopes for a swift and decisive defeat of jihadists in eastern Libya.

On 7 July, Ibrahim Jadhran’s Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) occupied Zeuitina port and evicted the local customs and security guards who are loyal to the LNA.  After doing so, the PFG announced that export operations from Zueitina will be resumed in the near future. However, this unlikely to happen, as the oil wells feeding the port are under the control of LNA units in the Sirte Basin. Any resumption of exports from Zueitina will require the cooperation of the LNA, which is unlikely in the short term without a political settlement between the Government of National Accord and the House of Representatives.

In the Oil Crescent, a large Benghazi Defense Brigade (BDB) convoy was hit by LNA airstrikes on 10 July near Al Sultan, 60 kilometers east of Zueitina, as it advanced towards Benghazi. LNA ground units mobilised to secure the area, and current reports indicate that the BDB scattered after the airstrike, with some fighters returning to their base in Jufra. The heightened activity of the BDB and other jihadists in eastern Libya may have the positive affect of focusing the attention of the LNA and the PFG.  However, rumors in the region have speculated that the PFG has been secretly facilitating the BDB’s advance towards Benghazi, a development that could potentially reignite competition between the LNA and PFG.