Soldiers from Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) attacked an airbase controlled by the forces of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar. The operation was launched early on Tuesday by troops loyal to the Tripoli-based GNA, which managed to seize control of major parts of the al-Watiya airbase, southwest of the capital, sources said. Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) was forced back to the southern part of the key airbase. He added the two sides were exchanging heavy fire. "This battle for al-Watiya has been prepared for by government forces over the past few weeks, by air strikes from government drones targeting Haftar's forces and locations in and around al-Watiya airbase," he said.
Egypt's parliament is expected to vote on Monday to authorise the president to deploy troops to neighbouring Libya if Turkey-backed forces there move to retake the key coastal city of Sirte. Turkey, meanwhile, demanded an "immediate" end to the support for rebel commander Khalifa Haftar in Libya after trilateral talks held in Ankara between Libyan, Turkish, and Maltese officials on Monday. "It is essential that all kind of help and support given to putschist Haftar - which prohibits ensuring Libya's peace, tranquillity, security, and territorial integrity - ends immediately," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said. Haftar's backers should "stop supporting an unrealistic and wrong project", the UN-recognised Government of National Accord's (GNA) Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga said. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia have been backing Haftar's eastern-based forces in the conflict, while Turkey supports the GNA.
Tripoli, Libya - For an entire year, it seemed like Khalifa Haftar was hell-bent on taking the Libyan capital, Tripoli, by force. His Libyan National Army (LNA) had made considerable strides towards capturing the city of some 2.3 million people. Support from the likes of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia - in the form of drone and fighter jet sorties, and an army of mercenaries - appeared to make his victory all the more likely. Instead, the United Nations-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA), which Turkey backs, launched a counteroffensive that has, in record time, seen it retake several key towns and a strategic airbase southwest of Tripoli. Suddenly, Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones shifted from a defensive to offensive posture, destroying a handful of Russian Pantsir aerial defence systems and targeting LNA positions as far away as the Jufra military base in central Libya.
Russian fighters in Libya were flown out a town south of Tripoli by their Libyan allies after retreating from front lines at the capital, the town's mayor said. The reported departure of the Russians on Sunday was another blow to the Libya National Army (LNA) of eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar and his foreign allies. The Russian fighters allied to the LNA retreated with their heavy equipment from the capital to the airport of Bani Walid, a town some 150km (93 miles) southeast of Tripoli, said Salem Alaywan, Bani Walid's mayor. He told Reuters news agency the Russians were flown out of western Libya to Jufra, a remote central district and LNA stronghold. "They [the Russians] were flown in three military planes to Jufra and their military vehicles were driven there," he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said "some agreements" have been reached with his US counterpart Donald Trump that could herald a "new era" in the conflict in Libya. Turkey supports the internationally recognised government of Fayez al-Sarraj, whose forces have in recent weeks driven back an assault on the capital, Tripoli, by the forces of renegade commander Khalifa Haftar. While the US officially supports Libya's UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), Haftar is supported by Washington's allies - Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia - as well as France and Russia. "After our call this evening, there could be a new era between the US and Turkey regarding the (Libya) process," Erdogan told state broadcaster TRT on Monday. "We reached some agreements during our call", he said, and alluded to a "possible step" the two countries could take together, but offered no details.