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  • Sirte is the traditional boundary between Libya's west and east and a key gateway to the country's main oil fields in the east.

    Sirte is the traditional boundary between Libya's west and east and a key gateway to the country's main oil fields in the east. | Photo: AFP

Published 7 June 2020
Opinion

"Libya will not be completed without its east," Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha added.

The United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj promised Sunday to retake the country's east after launching an offensive Saturday to capture the strategic city of Sirte from the eastern-based forces of General Khalifa Haftar.

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"Libya will not be completed without its east," Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha added.

Sirte is the traditional boundary between Libya's west and east and a key gateway to the country's main oil fields in the east held Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). 

Since May, the GNA has taken the strategic al-Watiya airbase south of Tripoli; Bani Walid in the country's northwest; and a day after the city of Tarhuna, Haftar's last stronghold in northwestern Libya and Tripoli International Airport.

And as Haftar continues to suffer significant losses, he announced his support of a ceasefire in Libya to take effect from Monday, proposed by Egypt's president. The U.N. Support Mission in the North African nation welcomed the initiative. 

The "Cairo Declaration" urges the withdrawal of "foreign mercenaries from all Libyan territory” and the "dismantling militias and handing over their weaponry so that Libyan National Army [led by Haftar] would be able to carry out its military and security responsibilities and duties."

From 2014 and on, Libya has had two political power centers, the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, that is having a hard time governing the capital city and some western areas, and another government in Tobruk, an eastern city which has remained under Haftar's control.

The North-African nation which has major oil reserves had been under foreign rule for centuries and gained independence in 1951. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seized power in 1969 and ruled the country for four decades until he was ousted in 2011 by Western military intervention. 

According to the U.N., more than 280 civilians and about 2,000 fighters have been killed and 146,000 Libyans displaced since Haftar launched his assault to seize the capital.

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