Why Khalifa Haftar could not keep the coast of Libya?

A post by Anton Lavrov and Roman Krazul published in Izvestia. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


MOSCOW, (BM) – The situation in the west of Libya has radically changed in a few days. Units of the Government of National Accord (GNA) were able to clear the Libyan National Army (LNA) Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar coastal areas of the country that they recently captured. The main stronghold of the LNA in the region, Al-Vatiyya airbase, was threatened. Experts believe that her loss could put an end to the hopes of the field marshal to defeat by military means.

From hand to hand

Sources familiar with the situation told Izvestia that the LNA suffered a major defeat, and the advance of its opponents is still ongoing. Now the PNS troops have reached the approaches to the most important strategic object of Khalifa Haftar – Al-Vatiyya airbase. Units of the Government of National Accord have already begun to strike at it with drones and shell artillery.

The GNA has already regained control of several cities in the coastal strip (including Sabrata with a population of 110 thousand people). Libyan National Army forces left settlements without a fight. There is already beginning the restoration of civil authorities that are loyal to the government in Tripoli.

As a result of this offensive by the GNA, dubbed the Peaceful storm, a transport corridor from the capital of the country to the border with Tunisia reopened – military and civilian cargo travel along it. At the end of March, an important strategic artery turned out to be cut as a result of attacks by LNA units.

Among the trophies captured from the Libyan National Army, the PNS demonstrated five T-55 tanks and one T-62, several artillery units, including Grad MLRS, as well as dozens of guided missiles, including modern Metis-M and Cornet. Judging by the photographs, all the armored vehicles were damaged and may not have been underway.

The Government of National Accord claims that in recent battles, its units managed to shoot down two Chinese-made Wing Loong drone drone and one Mi-35. LNA recognized the death of the helicopter and crew. The forces of the GNA, led by Fayez Saraj, do not specify what air defense systems did this. But, as Izvestiya previously reported, on April 1, one of these Haftar drones was destroyed by a long-range anti-aircraft missile launched from a Turkish frigate. Warships of this country are constantly patrolling along the Libyan coast.

Khalifa Haftar underestimated the enemy and stretched his squads too much, military expert Vladislav Shurygin believes. Field Marshal’s trump card all previous months was air supremacy. If Turkey helped Tripoli close the airspace, then this could deprive the field marshal of the advantage and sharply weaken the combat capabilities of his troops, the expert suggested.

“All military operations in the desert regions of Libya are conducted around air bases,” said Vladislav Shurygin. “There is no front line and convenient lines where you can catch. Having lost the battle over the coast, Haftar is forced to roll back to where he started – to his al-Vatiyya airbase. Having lost this strategic object, he will not be able to supply his western grouping by air and support it with air strikes and drones. This will put an end to his plans to seize the coast and bring down the whole front there. And after a defeat in this direction, the LNA attack on the capital of the country will be in jeopardy.”

Clashes in the west of Libya have not yet reduced tension in the battles for Tripoli. There is still a battle going on in the Abu Salim area. On the way to the front on Thursday, additional columns with reinforcements for the LNA were recorded on video. In the area of ​​the capital, exchanges of artillery and missile strikes do not stop.

New items sent to battle

According to The New Arab, the UAE made a deal with Israel to buy an unnamed model of an anti-aircraft missile system. After training the personnel, he will be transferred to the Haftar troops. The novelty should help parts of the LNA to deal with Turkish-made strike drones. The appearance of these drones in large numbers is called an important factor in the success of government forces.

The LNA reported about 24 enemy drones shot down over the past year, but managed to present the wreckage of only about 10 heavy drones destroyed in the air.

On the eve of the fighting in the west of Libya, for the first time it became known about the use of another novelty – Polish-made Warmate kamikaze drones. A small barrage of ammunition can remain in the air for up to half an hour, during which shoot infantry and destroy lightly armored vehicles at a distance of 10 km. It is not yet known which side applied it.

Without hope for peace

After a series of military successes over Khalifa Haftar’s troops, GNA representatives changed their rhetoric. In an interview with Italian media on Wednesday, April 15, Prime Minister Fayez Saraj said he did not intend to resume peace talks with the LNA. As a reason, he called indiscriminate shelling of the capital and civilian targets. According to him, the field marshal also used the pandemic of the new coronavirus to launch attacking actions.

Attempting a large-scale counteroffensive in the wake of Saraj’s success would be a gamble, said Colonel Vladimir Anokhin, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems.

“He has no opportunity for this,” he told Izvestia. “Rather, there will be a respite now, and then the field marshal will go on the attack again. He has real power. Further is a matter of time. The current successes of Saraj lead only to the escalation and prolongation of bloody skirmishes.”

The tactical victory in this situation does not play any role, but only delays the denouement, the expert is sure. And the longer it drags, the bloodier the result will be. “The people, no matter how weak and fragmented they are, do not like interventionists. And the appearance in Libya of Turks and extremists from the Islamic State (ISIS, the organization is banned in Russia) immediately increased the popularity of Haftar,” concluded Vladimir Anokhin.

Meanwhile, a videoconference is being prepared for the leaders of five countries – permanent members of the UN Security Council. On it, they should call for an end to the time of the pandemic of all military conflicts, including Libyan. The previous truce declared in northern Africa due to COVID-19 at the end of March did not last even a few days. The parties accused each other of his non-compliance and resumed fighting.


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Editorial team
Original source: Izvestia