Forces aligned with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) said that they had withdrawn from Libya’s strategic coastal city of Sirte as the rival Libyan National Army (LNA) swept in and took control on Tuesday.
The LNA previously announced it had taken various parts of Sirte on Monday night. Led by General Khalifa Haftar and his government based in the eastern city of Benghazi, the LNA has been fighting a civil war against Fayez al-Sarraj’s GNA and affiliated forces.
Sirte is strategically close to important oil terminals in the northern center of the coast.
On Tuesday, the GNA-affiliated forces claimed they withdrew from Sirte in order to prevent bloodshed, reported Reuters.
“Our forces took a decision, after studying the situation, to withdraw outside Sirte, then await orders,” the Sirte Protection Force, a GNA ally, said in a statement.
“Our forces still retain their full capabilities and our withdrawal from Sire is not the end,” it added.
The LNA’s advance comes after Turkey’s embattled President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to send troops to Libya on Thursday, amid rising international outrage at his attempt to lay claim to vast swathes of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Fighting has also taken place elsewhere in the country, including close to the capital Tripoli.
Reuters reported that LNA forces clashed with forces from Misrata loyal to the GNA in the Abu Grain area, between Sirte and Misrata to the west.
- With Reuters.