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Libya’s unity government retakes eastern oil fields from dissenting group

Published September 19th, 2016 - 11:00 GMT
Oil silos at the Zueitina oil terminal in eastern Libya on September 14, 2016. (AFP/Abdullah Doma)
Oil silos at the Zueitina oil terminal in eastern Libya on September 14, 2016. (AFP/Abdullah Doma)

Forces aligned with Libya’s unity government on Sunday launched a counter attack on troops loyal to a rival government, claiming to take control of key eastern oil terminals.

“Our forces launched a surprise attack on forces of Khalifa Hafter in the oil crescent,” Ali al-Hasi, spokesman for the so-called Petroleum Facilities Guard, told Anadolu Agency.

Haftar is the commander of troops loyal to a rival administration based in Tobruk in eastern Libya.

Al-Hasi claimed that his forces have regained control of the Sidra oil port and Ras Lanuf area in eastern Libya during the fighting.

“Our forces are moving to regain control of all oil terminals in the area,” he said.

A pro-Hafter commander, however, denied the claim.

“We were expecting this attack,” Muzafar al-Maghrabi said, insisting that the positions of Haftar’s forces are still “secured”.

No information is yet available about casualties in the ongoing fighting. 

Last week, Haftar's forces seized full control of the Ras Lanuf and Sidra oil ports in eastern al-Bayda city from forces loyal to the unity government.

The Ras Lanuf and Sidra oilfields are estimated to account for more than half of Libya's oil production.

Libya has been roiled by chaos since the ouster and subsequent killing of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Since Gaddafi's ouster, the country’s oil production has dropped from 1.6 million barrels per day to about 200,000 barrels.

By Moataz al-Majbari

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