(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
BENGHAZI - East Libyan forces said they carried out air strikes and clashed with rival factions on Friday close to major oil terminals as they sought to fend off the latest challenge to their control of the ports.
The strikes were carried out south of the coastal town of Nawfiliya in response to an attack by the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), according to spokesmen for the eastern air force and for the local Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG). A military spokesman said the attack had been repelled.
Nawfiliya is about 50 km (30 miles) west of the oil port Es Sider and 75 km (50 miles) west of another terminal, Ras Lanuf.
An oil official at Ras Lanuf said the port was under PFG authority but that there was fighting close to Es Sider. A second port source said operations at the ports had not been affected.
Es Sider and Ras Lanuf are among four ports that the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) took control of in September.
It allowed the National Oil Corporation (NOC) to reopen three of the ports which had long been blockaded, allowing a sharp boost to Libya's oil production.
The LNA's opponents have made several attempts since then to recapture the ports, but have been pushed back by air strikes.