Libyan authorities warns of ‘hostile forces’ close to Sirte

TRIPOLI

Any attempt to attack Libya’s northern city of Sirte would amount to a “declaration of war”, the consequences of which would be “disastrous”, the UN-backed Libyan government’s military apparatus warned Thursday.

The warning was issued by Mohamed al-Ghosri, a spokesman for the Tripoli-based government’s Al-Bunyan al-Marsous Forces, who went on to warn against involving Sirte in “a fresh conflict”.

Last week, Al-Bunyan al-Marsous was placed on high alert after “hostile forces” were reportedly spotted near Sirte, which is located some 450 kilometers southeast of capital Tripoli.

At the time, al-Ghosri had identified the “hostile forces” as those loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a military commander affiliated with a rival government based in Libya’s eastern city of Al-Bayda.

According to al-Ghosri, Sirte has enjoyed security since the Al-Bunyan al-Marsous Forces liberated the city from the Daesh terrorist group in 2016.

Earlier this week, local activists posted video footage online purportedly showing pro-Haftar forces near Sirte’s southern entrance.

Libya has remained beset by violence turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.

Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power — one in Al-Bayda (with which Haftar is affiliated) and another in Tripoli — along with a host of heavily-armed militia groups.

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