In an attempt to consolidate power in the east, Gen. Khalifa Haftar moves to oust opponents, who are supporting the UN backed government(GNA).
It seems that the conflict between supporters of Haftar in the east and his opponents who support the GNA has been escalating recently especially after the resumption of oil exports rejected by Haftar.
In response, Khalifa Haftar’s militia led by Muftah Shagloof, who was appointed by Haftar as chief of Petroleum Facilities Guard, attacked Zueitina oil terminal.
Shagloof was tasked by renegade General Khalifa Haftar to occupy oil ports in the oil crescent region in addition to the oil fields in Wahat, Maradah and Zallah regions as reported by Libya Observer.
The Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) under Ibrahim Jadhran has reportedly repelled an attack by Haftar’s forces on Zuetina oil port, about 180 km. south west of Benghazi.
LNA troops related to Haftar are said to be just 12 kilometers east of Zuetina.
The move represents an escalation of the conflict between the GNA with Haftar and the House of Representatives (HoR) government.
Moreover, General Khalifa Haftar commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) associated with the Tobruk-based government of PM Abdullah al-Thinni has completely broken off relations with Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi the current defense minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), as reported by Digital Journal.
Al-Barghathi was the former army commander who served under Gen. Khalifa Haftar and although he joined Haftar’s Operation Dignity, he is an opponent of Haftar who objected to his becoming defense minister in the UN-backed GNA government.
In addition, AL-Barghathi is a close ally to the head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard Ibrahim Jadhran who also backs the GNA.
Jadhran has recently an agreement to open a number of exporting ports with the GNA, opposed by Haftar who refuses oil exports through the GNA.
AL-Barghathi, who was a commander of the 204 tanks brigade, was quite popular among his troops as a commander who joined them and led them into battle. However, Haftar broke off all relations with him and changed the name of 204 tanks brigade to the 298 tanks brigade.
Then, he appointed Abd Al-Karim Barghouti as the new commander. At an earlier time, Al-Barghthi had been the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt.
In the same context, part of Haftar’s propaganda campaign to fight his opponents in the east is to declare his opposition to the U.S. air strikes in Sirte requested by the GNA.
As a result, the spokesperson for the LNA Ahmed al-Mesmari accused the US air strike against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Sirte of hitting vehicles belonging to forces allied with the GNA by mistake.
The US and the GNA didn’t comment on the accusations.
Moreover, Al-Mesmari opposed US military intervention and claimed that Sirte would be liberated by the LNA and not by the US or any other country.”
However, after announcing a march on Sirte a long time ago, the LNA avoided any clashes with the ISIS in the Sirte area,” reported Digital Journal.
Haftar’s militia is still fighting the remnants of the Benghazi Shura Council fighters in Benghazi and lately also the recently formed Defend Benghazi Brigades west of Benghazi.
He is also carrying out a siege on Derna, Operation Volcano against the Derna Shura Council of Mujahedeen. The Council fighters had earlier this year been instrumental in expelling the Islamic State from Derna their former stronghold.