Forces allied with Libya’s internationally recognised government said they had captured a major city from their rivals on Friday, a day after they regained control of the capital Tripoli.
In recent weeks, forces from the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli have made swift territorial gains against the rival self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.
The GNA’s military spokesman, Mohammed Gnounou, said on Friday that government forces were in complete control of the city of Tarhouna, about 90 kilometres south-east of Tripoli, and Haftar’s last stronghold in western Libya.
“Our heroic forces have taught Haftar’s terrorist militias an unforgettable lesson,” Gnounou added on Twitter.
Mostafa al-Majai, another GNA military spokesman, said the government forces had entered Tarhouna without any fighting after LNA forces had pulled out of the city into the desert.
“No reprisal acts have taken place inside the city. A large number of residents left the city days ago.
“This has made it easy to establish security there,” he told dpa.
A source in Haftar’s forces confirmed on Friday that LNA forces and their allies had left Tarhouna.
Haftar’s loyalists seized Tarhouna following the start of their campaign in April last year to capture Tripoli from the GNA.
Later on Friday, the GNA military said its forces had also taken full control of al-Urban, a town about 130 kilometres south-west of Tripoli.
GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has vowed to bring all Libyan territory under his government’s control, according to the official Twitter account of the GNA forces.
“There is no concession in applying justice and law to bring to account everyone involved in perpetrating crimes against Libyans,” he was quoted as saying.
The GNA government has repeatedly accused Haftar and his forces of committing war crimes.
Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt toppled long-time dictator Muammer Gaddafi.
The oil-wealthy country is divided between two rival factions that are supported by different regional powers.
Turkey, along with Qatar, backs the GNA against Haftar, who is supported by Egypt, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Also on Friday, the UN Security Council extended an arms embargo against Libya for 12 more months in a unanimous vote.
Germany’s deputy UN ambassador Juergen Schulz said strict adherence to the embargo is extremely important, adding that the resolution passed is a meaningful tool to ensure compliance.
The embargo has been in place since 2011, but is largely ineffective, as other countries continue to deliver arms and military equipment or send troops to join the conflict.
The European Union’s Operation Irini began monitoring activities in the Mediterranean Sea to uphold the embargo in May. (dpa/NAN)