Libya's Haftar loses main base south of Tripoli in surprise blow

Military vehicles for GNA’s forces en route to Gharyan

Military vehicles for GNA’s forces en route to Gharyan

Forces loyal to the internationally recognised government of Libya say they have captured a key strategic town from General Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army.

From Wednesday morning onwards, the Libyan Air Force under the GNA's command carried a number of airstrikes on Haftar's forces positions in Khalet Al-Furjan, Wadi rabbi, Sir Benghashir and Ain Zara districts, thus allowing ground troops to locate themselves in new positions and push Haftar's forces way - eaters back to Gharyan or to Tarhouna.

The fighting was reported to have taken place in Abu Shiba area near Tripoli's southern city of Gharyan, which is being held by Haftar's forces.

Al Jazeera's Sara Khairat reports. The LNA was forced out of the town and the GNA army took over its central operations room, field hospitals, and a helicopter base.

Gharyan, about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) south of Tripoli, has been the main conduit for LNA supplies destined for its front line soldiers.

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Hifter's offensive against Tripoli has been widely criticized.

"If Haftar can't retake it quickly (which is doubtful) Tarhouna and the remaining LNA units will be more isolated, under-resourced and with lower morale", he said.

There was no immediate comment from the LNA, whose spokesman Ahmed Mismari hours earlier said an attack by Tripoli forces was repelled.

Libya is under turmoil since 2011, when its long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in a bloody NATO-backed uprising, after four decades in power.

Haftar's offensive has upended United Nations-led plans to stabilise Libya after years of conflict that have left the oil-rich nation divided and caused living standards to plummet.

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