East Libyan forces target rival brigades with air strikes around oil ports

By REUTERS
March 4, 2017 13:12
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BENGHAZI, Libya - East Libyan forces carried out air strikes around major oil ports overnight as they sought to regain control of the area from a rival faction, a military spokesman said on Saturday.

The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) and allied forces retreated on Friday from the oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, two of Libya's largest export terminals, as a faction known as the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) attacked.

The assault raised the prospect of a new escalation of violence around the ports, and put at risk a sharp boost to Libya's oil production achieved after the LNA took over four ports in September, ending a blockade at three of them.

Though Es Sider and Ras Lanuf have been reopened for exports, they were badly damaged in past fighting and are operating well below capacity. It was not clear to what extent the BDB had gained control over the ports, or whether operations at the terminals had been affected.

In response to the BDB advance, air strikes were carried out in Ras Lanuf, Es Sidra, Ben Jawad and Harawa, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari told Reuters.

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