LNA's Haftar announces start of final operation to take over Tripoli
East Libya's Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced the start of the Libyan National Army's final offensive to gain control over rival Government of National Accord-held Tripoli, Trend reports citing Sputnik.
"The zero hour passed, to all military units ... The hour that our people in Tripoli were looking forward to," Haftar said in an official statement.
Later, a correspondent of the Al Arabiya broadcaster reported that the LNA was advancing to Tripoli from several directions. LNA’s storm troops were reportedly deployed to Tripoli’s suburbs several days ago.
The LNA’s press service said that Haftar’s forces had seized a military academy in the Salah al-Din district in the southern suburbs of Tripoli.
The GNA reportedly said that it was controlling the situation despite Haftar’s offensive.
Last week, the foreign minister for the Government of National Accord stated that the downing of a fighter jet belonging to Khalifa Haftar’s forces proved that his army would not be able to take the Libyan capital. The statement came after the GNA's operations command tweeted that a MiG-23 jet of Haftar’s National Libyan Army had been shot down near the Yarmouk military camp, south of Tripoli.
In April, Haftar ordered his troops to march on the capital to retake it from what he claimed were terrorists. Ensuring fighting has reportedly killed civilians and displaced over 100,000 people.
After Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011, Libya ceased functioning as a unified state. Two rival governments - the internationally-recognized GNA and the Libyan National Army - have split the country into two parts.