The Libyan National Army (LNA) claimed on Sunday it is succeeding in its mission in Tripoli so far, and will “achieve the operation’s objectives soon.”
The LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari said at a Benghazi press conference that the LNA has eliminated many of the armed groups in Tripoli, and others are being dismantled after the killing of their leaders and destroying their ammunition stores by airstrikes.
“The LNA air force carried out an air raid in the village of Nasser, south of Zawiyah, targeting Osama al-Juwaili’s forces, in addition to dozens of air strikes conducted last week against military sites of the Government of National Accord (GNA),” he said.
Earlier in April, Haftar ordered the LNA to take Tripoli from the forces backed by the Government of National Accord (GNA). The LNA has already recaptured a number of important sites on its way to the capital, including the Tripoli International Airport.
The Tripoli-based GNA, led by Faiez al-Sarraj, has launched a counter-operation to defend Tripoli.
“GNA forces recently used drones sent by the Turkish army as it continues its military support to militants in Tripoli, and on top of that, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly attacked the national army,” Mismari said.
The GNA Prime Minister Faiez al-Sarraj seems to pin high hopes on Turkey. He once asked Ankara for support in an April 28 phone call with Erdogan. A day after the phone call, the GNA Interior Minister Fathy Bashaga visited Ankara to discuss the details of cooperation, including reportedly how to make use of bilateral defense and security deals.
On April 19, Erdogan received also the head of the Tripoli-based High Council of State.
Before the Tripoli war, several media reports spoke of arms shipments sent by Turkey to the GNA, or at least to affiliated factions in Libya. Sarraj and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denied the reports.
An official statement quoted Cavusoglu as saying Ankara rejects such actions “which do not represent the policy or approach of the Turkish state,” referring to weapon shipments coming from Turkey and seized at Libyan ports.
According to local media, one of those shipments was seized by customs in Khoms port, just over 100 kilometers east of Tripoli.
The consignment sent from Turkey contained 3,000 Turkish-made pistols, as well as some other pistols, hunting rifles, and ammunition, Benghazi’s Benina airport customs services said on their official Facebook account.
A day earlier, a cargo of 2.5 million Turkish-made bullets was seized at the same port, the same source said.
The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the shipment of arms to Libya as “extremely disconcerting.”
The UN last June extended an arms embargo on Libya for another year.