Libya's Haftar forces say recaptured two key oil export terminals
Iran Press TV
Thu Jun 21, 2018 01:59PM
Forces loyal to Libya's military strongman general Khalifa Haftar say they have managed to recapture two main oil export terminals in the northeast of the country from rival militia forces.
Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the self-styled Libyan National Army, said Thursday that LNA forces had now full control over the Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra terminals, both located about 650 kilometers east of Tripoli on the Mediterranean.
This came a week after forces loyal to Ibrahim Jadhran, a militia commander based in eastern Libya, attacked terminals.
Libya's National Oil Company (NOC) said on Wednesday that more than a week of fierce fighting had caused the Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra terminals to close. It also said that the violence had slashed the output by almost a half.
"Production has seen a reduction by 450,000 barrels per day, plus 70 million cubic feet of natural gas, equivalent to $33 million in sales based on market prices," Sanallah said, adding that fires caused by the clashes inflicted heavy loss on the facility.
"Maintenance teams are still dealing with the aftermath of the blaze and are trying to ascertain the extent of the damage to the terminal," Sanallah noted.
The Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra terminals had been under LNA control since 2016, when Haftar ordered an offensive to purge Jadhran's Petroleum Facilities Guard forces who had dominated the region since the ouster and killing of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. That enabled Libya to re-establish the badly-needed oil exports from the Mediterranean ports.
The LNA is currently the dominant force in eastern Libya although groups like the Benghazi Defense Brigades and those loyal to Jadhran continue to challenge LNA's clout.
Haftar, a general under Gaddafi, has been mostly opposed to United Nations efforts to establish a unity government in Libya. He has openly challenged the rule of one such administration in the capital Tripoli since it was established in 2015 while his forces continue to remain close to the rival government and parliament in the east of Libya.
Haftar and the LNA have been backed by certain Arab governments, including the United Arab Emirates and Libya's neighbor Egypt, while governments in Europe that once contributed to a NATO military operation to oust Gaddafi have also offered Haftar some diplomatic support.
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