- Title: Libya: GNA forces gear up for battle over Sirte
- Date: 7th July 2020
- Summary: TRIPOLI, LIBYA (JULY 6, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FORCES ALLIED TO THE GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL ACCORD (GNA) FIGHTERS LOADING GUNS GNA FIGHTERS PREPARING WEAPONS MOUNTED ON VEHICLES VEHICLES LINED UP MISRATA, LIBYA (JULY 7, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ARMY SPOKESMAN TO GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL ACCORD, MOHAMED QANUNU, SAYING: "For us, there is no difference between Sirte and any other city that is held by militias, who are harming it with their criminal acts. All of Libya's cities are important and strategic. As for the militias and the criminal gangs, they probably see Sirte as a gateway to the country's oil. Sirte in itself does not have any oil ports or fields, that is why they are gathering there, to be at the forefront, to be able to defend oil ports and fields that are being held (by militias) to provoke the Libyan state." TRIPOLI, LIBYA (JULY 6, 2020) (REUTERS) FIGHTER LOADING ARTILLERY BELT INTO GUN BULLETS BEING PUSHED INTO ARTILLERY BELT GNA FIGHTERS, SOME MASKED, BY ARMED VEHICLES FIGHTERS WALKING WITH WEAPONS MISRATA, LIBYA (JULY 7, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ARMY SPOKESMAN TO GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL ACCORD, MOHAMED QANUNU, SAYING: "The negotiations towards peaceful agreements started at the beginning of this process. As many can see, cities in Western Libya have been liberated with the least of costs, lives, and properties. We have not started this war. We do not start wars out of love for killing and being killed, but out of a need to free cities from militias and criminal gangs. If this can be done peacefully, then so be it. However, our only option is to use force to get rid of this deceitful cancer." TRIPOLI, LIBYA (JULY 6, 2020) (REUTERS) FIGHTER LOADING GUN FIGHTERS BY VEHICLES FIGHTER SITTING IN VEHICLE AS GUN BARREL IS MOVED VARIOUS OF FIGHTERS LINED UP MISRATA, LIBYA (JULY 7, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ARMY SPOKESMAN TO GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL ACCORD, MOHAMED QANUNU, SAYING: "(Egyptian president Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi's speech can only be read as a letter of support and protection for the foreign militias and criminal gangs that exist in Sirte and Jufra. The whole world acknowledges that there are militias all over, for example at Jufra, and by the oil fields. We have to make these areas and these cities red lines. We can only say that these red lines are Libya's borders, north and east, south and west, that have been painted by the blood of our past and present martyrs." TRIPOLI, LIBYA (JULY 6, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF GNA FIGHTERS IN ARMOURED VEHICLES HEADING TOWARDS SIRTE IN CONVOY
- Embargoed: 21st July 2020 20:05
- Keywords: GNA Government of National Accord LNA Libya Libyan National Army Misrata Sirte Tripoli armed conflict
- Location: MISRATA & TRIPOLI, LIBYA
- City: MISRATA & TRIPOLI, LIBYA
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Insurgencies
- Reuters ID: LVA001CLTATDZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Fighters loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) were seen gearing up on Monday (July 6) before heading towards Sirte where warring sides are mobilising near the main oil region as their foreign backers threaten an escalation.
GNA fighters were seen loading weaponry next to armoured vehicles before their convoy drove towards Sirte.
Libya's frontlines have shifted rapidly as Ankara's backing helped the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) to drive the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) from Tripoli and the northwest.
The LNA, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, has fallen back as far as Sirte, on the central Mediterranean coastline, where airstrikes stopped the GNA advance.
Both sides are now preparing to battle for Sirte.
Mohamed Qanunu, army spokesman to the GNA, said on Tuesday (July 7) that rivals see Sirte "as a gateway to the country's oil" and that it must be defended against "militias and criminal gangs".
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has warned that any Turkish-backed effort to take Sirte, which the LNA captured in January, could lead its army to directly intervene, a warning that was dismissed by Turkey.
Sirte is of tactical importance in Libya's civil war due to its proximity to several major oil terminals.
Diplomats say a new battle for the coastal city could still be avoided, particularly if Turkey and Russia can hash out an agreement.
(Production: Ayman Sahely, Nadeen Ebrahim)
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