On April 22nd, the spokesperson of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Major General Ahmed al-Mismari said that the “final decisive battle” in Tripoli is nearing during a briefing in Benghazi.
He said that the offensive will be ramped up to push the forces of the Government of National Accord to a complete defeat.
Despite reports that pro-GNA forces had driven the LNA back in recent days at the southern suburb of Ain Zara, the main scene of fighting, al-Mismari said there had been no LNA retreat.
He did admit that said an advance by LNA forces had slowed because of the dense population in the areas where fighting was taking place. He told reporters the LNA was calling in reservists to open new fronts on Tripoli and said his army would use artillery and infantry in the next days. He gave no details.
The LNA spokesman said that the GNA moved some state institutions from Tripoli to Misrata.
On twitter, al-Mismari said that terrorism has almost been conquered in Libya and that Tripoli is the “last stronghold.”
We have conquered terrorism and we are fighting it in its final stronghold in the west of Libya.
— LNA Spox. (@LNASpox) April 21, 2019
Further saying that a terrorist is anybody carrying a weapon outside of the legitimacy of the state.
Whoever carries a weapons outside of the legetimacy of the state is a terrorist.
— LNA Spox. (@LNASpox) April 21, 2019
The LNA General Command on April 23rd announced that it had shot down a GNA air force fighter jet. It was part of a squad of 3 fighter jets trying to assault the Al-Jafra air base.
— Mohamed Mansour ?? (@Mansourtalk) April 23, 2019
The GNA forces denied any warplane was shot down, saying that no flights were carried out due to bad weather since the previous day.
عاجل| قنونو لبانوراما: ننفي إسقاط إحدى طائراتنا ولم ننفذ أي طلعات أمس واليوم لسوء الأحوال الجوية pic.twitter.com/lPeb7OVaLc
— ليبيا بانوراما (@lpc_ly) April 23, 2019
The LNA’s War Information Division published a video showing a large force was incoming to reinforce in the fight for Tripoli.
وصول تعزيزات عسكرية ضخمة من المنطقة العسكرية – الجبل الغربي للمشاركة في عمليات تحرير العاصمة تضم القوات التي وصلت لجبهات القتال مختلف وحدات القوات المسلحة بالمنطقة وعلى رأسها اللواء إدريس مادي #الاعلام_الحربي
Posted by شعبة الاعلام الحربي on Monday, April 22, 2019
The large force was en route from Jabal al Gharbi’s military district, led by Major General Idris Madi.
The GNA launched a new attack on LNA positions on the Hira area north of Gharyan.
The GNA’s Facebook has been somewhat silent, but it claimed that it had destroyed numerous combat vehicles and carried out successful airstrikes over April 20th and 21st.
It also claimed it had arrested 7 LNA fighters.
The LNA preparing for a final push on Tripoli comes shortly after the White House issued a statement saying that US President Donald Trump spoke to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar on the phone on April 15th. In the phone call Trump expressed his support for the LNA’s operation.
Trump “recognised Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system,” the White House statement said.
It would also appear that the GNA forces are being supported by Iran, as a ship of an Iranian company sanctioned by the United States docked at Misrata on April 22nd.
BIVOL, a Bulgarian news website specialized in investigative journalism, in partnership with the online international security journal De Re Militari reported that the ship “Shahr E Kord” is owned by an Iranian state-owned maritime transport company.
Iranian ship Shahr e Kord on its way to Misrata. the ship departed from Burgas, Bulgaria (with undefined cargo) after arriving from Latakia. The owner of the ship is under US sanctions for transporting weapons for #IRGC pic.twitter.com/azVmae5PAt
— Ruslan Trad (@ruslantrad) April 22, 2019
“According to our sources, the Iranians, as allies of Qatar, which is active in Libya, are sending military assistance in the form of weapons and ammunition to Misrata so that the port can withstand the attacks.” BIVOL reported.
“Bulgaria, for its part, has a close relationship with Qatar and also with Iran – so any such cargo will not be a surprise,” explains Ruslan Trad, co-founder of De Re Militari. “What is carried with this ship is not exactly known, it is hardly a good thing.”
Meanwhile, Maria do Valle Ribeiro, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya called for a ceasefire, so that the UN and other partners could provide humanitarian aid to civilians.
“We are likely to see a continuation of hostilities for some time to come,” she said at a press briefing in Tripoli. “For that we need to gear up and accelerate and increase our capacity to be able to respond.”
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Map Update: Military Situation In Libya On April 23, 2019
- New Wave Of Airstrikes Hits GNA-Held Tripoli (Videos)
- In Maps: Military Situation In Libya On April 21, 2019
- LNA Says “Friendly” Warplanes Attacked GNA Forces Near Tripoli (UPDATED)