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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan government forces seize al-Wattiya air base from Haftar

By Ken Hanly     May 19, 2020 in Politics
The internationally-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has captured the al-Wattiya airbase from Khalifa Haftar's forces the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA)
A major loss for Haftar
The base is huge and was key
in launching LNA attacks on adjacent areas. It is one of the last key holdings the LNA had in the area as the GNA forces had dislodged the LNA from many towns along the coast west of Tripoli. Although there is still fighting in the area images show that the GNA controls the base itself. Although there are still LNA troops within shelling distance of Tripoli many of the LNA supply lines are now cut. Eventually the LNA area of control could be reduced to the east of the country if GNA successes continue. Although some backers of Haftar such as the UAE increased supplies they have so far not turned the tide against the GNA which is being helped by Turkey whose drone have been very effective in destroying LNA equipment including air defense systems sent from Russia.
The al-Wattiya base had been under siege by GNA forces for about a week. Fayez al-Sarraj the head of the GNA said in a statement: "We proudly announce the liberation of Al-Watiya base," 140 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of Tripoli..Today's success is not the end of the battle but it brings us closer than ever to victory when all cities and regions will be liberated and the tyrannical bid threatening democracy (is) crushed."
The attack
Prior to the attack GNA forces had pounded the base from the air using drones provided by Turkey. They also bombarded the nearby town of Tarhuna. Analyst Hamish Kinnear said: "Once again, the GNA's advances were enabled by extensive Turkish military support." The drones were said to be supplied via the UAE.
The GNA commander Mohamad Gammoudi claimed that the final attack on the base was launched at dawn on Monday with air support. The base was surrounded on three fronts. Gammoudi said his forces met little resistance except from a few armored vehicles which tried to slow his advance to allow Haftar forces to safely retreat. The base had been occupied by the LNA since 2014. Military forces claim that all Haftar's aircraft have now been destroyed in the battle fro Tripoli. This will place his troops at a distinct disadvantage as fighting continues.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Khalifa Haftar, Libya civil war, Libyan Government of National Accord
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