Two military battalions from Zintan and Rajaban joined the battle led by Libya’s National Army on the last militia stronghold in the capital of Tripoli, amidst expanding local support for this decisive battle.
Pro-army pages published videos showing the arrival of military garrisons to the city of Gharyan to support the armed forces. Those pages confirmed Major General Mughafal and Battalion 199 joined the battle to liberate Tripoli.
Zintan has been divided since the arrival of the Al-Wefaq government to Tripoli at the end of March 2016, between those that supported the Libyan army and who refused to ally with the militias of the Al-Wefaq government, and the forces under Ghassamah Osama al-Juwaili that support the government of the accord. Al-Juwaili is currently leading the battles against Haftar’s forces, but the rift has led to hesitation for fear of fighting against brothers from Zintan.
Military battalions in the town of Bani Walid, a stronghold of the Warfalla tribe, announced Saturday their support for the army in its fight against militias. The Bani Walid City Airport Protection Battalion, the 52nd Infantry Brigade and the Deterrent Force of Bani Walid joined the Libyan army. In a video, the military forces in Bani Walid confirmed their “compliance with the orders of the General Command and with the process of liberating the capital from the militias of Qatar and Turkey.”
700 members of the Bani Walid Security Directorate, affiliated to the Ministry of the Interior in the interim government, announced their “belief in their national duty, respecting the sacrifices made by the armed forces on behalf of the nation in the fight against terrorism.”
Members of the Directorate of Bani Walid confirmed their full readiness to implement the instructions of the Minister of the Interior, Ibrahim Bushnav. They stressed that this position was taken to extend security throughout the country. The army began their battle against the Tripoli militias from the city of Tarhouna. The head of the Council of Elders and Wisemen, Salihon Saleh Alfandi, said in press statements on Sunday, that they continued to support the efforts of the armed forces to establish security, stressing that the war in Tripoli is not regional or tribal because the national army consists of the sons of all the cities of Libya.
“We have a righteous position, because they are cutting off all our basic needs – fuel, liquidity and gas a year ago – just because we support the national army,” he said in response to a question about the attack on the city. The Libyan army launched in early April a battle described as “critical” against militias linked to the government of national reconciliation led by Fayez al-Sarraj.
Since the attack was launched, the Libyan National Army has controlled the Gharyan area, Bani Ghashir, and a number of smaller towns. It also took control of the old Tripoli airport. Fighting is underway to control Ain Zara and al-Aziziyah – two towns near the capital – and the Abu Salim area, about 7 kilometers from the center of Tripoli.
“The Libyan National Army has slowed down because of concerns over the civilians in the greater Tripoli area, estimated at three million,” Abdul Hadi al-Hweij, the government’s foreign minister in eastern Libya told the Associated Press. “Had the civilians not been taken into account, the battle would have ended in less than a week,” he said.
Libyan National Army spokesman Major General Ahmed al-Mesmari confirmed that the army will prove that the battle of Tripoli is between Libyans and terrorism, and they will not allow Libya to be a center of terrorism and crime that threatens international peace. He added that the military forces are currently stationed on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli, 10 kilometers from its center, noting that the Libyan army is fighting foreign countries behind the militias and terrorist organizations, stressing the army’s keenness regarding the safety of civilians in light of the fact that militias are using them as human shields.
On Monday, Libyans staged demonstrations in support of the army’s military operation.