The Libyan National Army (LNA) has launched a “decisive battle” to capture the country’s capital, Tripoli, Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Khalifa Hafta announced late on December 12.
“Thanks to our national army, we are recovering Libya from the clutches of terrorism and traitors … Today we announce a decisive battle and advance towards the heart of the capital, to break its chains and free its prisoners,” Haftar said in a televised speech to the Libyan people.
Tripoli’s city center and its outskirt is still under the control of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and its forces, which are being backed by Turkey and Qatar.
Last April, the LNA launched a large-scale military operation to reach the capital with support from the UAE and Egypt. Now, army troops are stationed only 5 km away from Tripoli’s southern districts.
No major clashes or airstrikes were reported near Tripoli following Haftar’s announcement. However, a ground assault on the city is expected to begin at any given moment.
The timing of Haftar’s decisive decision suggest that it could be related to the recent growth of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
The internationally-recognized GNA signed an agreement with Turkey earlier this month. This agreement allows Turkey to continue its expansion in the region and its controversial drilling activities. This resulted in a negative response from Egypt and Greece.