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BENGHAZI, Libya/VIENNA, June 21, 2018 (News Wires) -- East Libyan forces said on Thursday they had retaken the shuttered oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, where the head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said he hoped operations would resume in a “couple of days”.

Staff were evacuated from the key terminals in Libya’s eastern oil crescent and exports were suspended last Thursday when armed opponents of eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar attacked the ports and occupied them.

The closure has led to daily production losses of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), and two oil storage tanks were destroyed or badly damaged by fires during the fighting.

For the past week, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been pounding the area with air strikes as it mobilised to retake the ports, and it continued to target its rivals with air strikes on Thursday as they retreated.

Haftar is one of the key figures vying for power in Libya since the country fragmented following a NATO-backed uprising in 2011. He has received increased international recognition since seizing the oil crescent ports in 2016 and allowing the NOC to reopen them, despite his rejection of a U.N.-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.

Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for the LNA which Haftar built up during his three-year campaign to seize Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, said troops had retaken Es Sider by mid-morning and were clashing with opponents as they advanced west.

Mismari said Ras Lanuf, which includes a residential town, an air strip, storage tanks and a refinery, alongside the oil terminal, had also been taken by the LNA.

“Our armed forces fully control the Ras Lanuf district and the enemy suffered large losses in lives and equipment,” he said.

LNA officials said that their rivals had fled to the west and south, into the desert, though there were reports of continuing fighting near Ras Lanuf.

A medical source confirmed two deaths among LNA forces. The LNA was able to free three fighters who had been held captive, one military official said.

Libya’s national production was cut to between 600,000 and 700,000 bpd from more than one million bpd by the oil crescent clashes, but NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said he was expecting a quick restart.

“Libyan production is very low but we are going to resume very soon,” he told reporters in Vienna. “After a couple of days we will resume, we start our operations hopefully.”

The NOC has blamed the attack on the terminals on militias led by Ibrahim Jathran, who blockaded oil crescent ports for several years before losing control of them in September 2016 to the LNA.

The LNA has said the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), a coalition of anti-Haftar fighters that previously tried to advance on Benghazi and seized Ras Lanuf and Es Sider for 10 days in March 2017, were also involved. Both sides have drawn on mercenaries recruited from Libya’s south and from Chad and Sudan.

CAIRO, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - Libya's coast guard says it has recovered the bodies of five migrants and rescued 186 others, including women and children, in separate operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

Navy spokesman Ayoub Jassem says the migrants, who were found Monday, were taken to a navy base in the capital, Tripoli, and a refugee camp in the town of Tawergha.

Libya was plunged into chaos following a 2011 uprising. Since then, Libya has been a frequently used route to Europe for migrants fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

Libya has worked to stem the flow of migrants, with assistance from the European Union.

CAIRO, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Libyan forces carried out airstrikes against a militia attacking key oil ports in the east, a spokesman said as Libya's national oil firm warned on Monday of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination in the north African country.

A militia, led by Ibrahim Jadhran who opposes Libya's self-styled national army commanded by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, attacked the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and al-Sidr on Thursday forcing the National Oil Corporation to suspend exports and evacuate its employees.

The airstrikes late Sunday targeted fighters loyal to Jadhran, who are trying to seize the oil terminals, said Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the LNA.

He said warplanes carried out airstrikes against "terrorist positions and gatherings in the operational military zone stretching from Ras Lanuf to the edge of the city of Sirte."

Al-Mesmari called on residents in the oil crescent area to stay away from "areas where the enemy gathers, munition storages and sites with military vehicles."

Jadhran said in a video circulated on social media last Thursday that he had formed an alliance to retake oil terminals. "Our aim is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years," he said.

 

BENGHAZI, June 17, 2018 (MENA) - The operation room of the Libyan air forces in the Central Military Zone announced that their jets raided terrorist hotbeds in the military zone from Ra's Lanuf to Sirte outskirts.

The jets destroyed an ammunition warehouse in Ra's Lanuf, Sky News quoted the operation room as saying on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Libyan army revealed more evidence that the terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qaeda and Daesh in Libya have interwoven conspiracies against the country.

MARSA MATROUH, Egypt, June 17, 2018 (MENA) - As many as 173 Egyptians returned home from Libya via Salloum crossing over the past 24 hours, said Matrouh Security Chief Hisham Nasr.

Out of all the returnees, eight Egyptians had illegally traveled to Libya, Nasr underlined in a statement issued on Saturday.

Meanwhile, travel procedures for 152 persons, including 14 Egyptians and 138 Libyans, have been finalized, the statement read.

Also, three trucks were allowed into Egypt from Libya to be loaded with Egyptian goods, it added.

 

 

CAIRO, June 10, 2018 (News Wires) — Libya’s coast guard has intercepted more than 150 migrants, including women and children, in the Mediterranean Sea.

It says two boats were stopped Saturday off the coast of the western Zuwara district and the capital, Tripoli. It says the boats were carrying 152 migrants, including 19 women and three children.

The migrants, who were from African and Arab countries, were taken a naval base in Tripoli.

Libya was plunged into chaos following a 2011 uprising and is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias.

The chaos has made it a popular route to Europe for migrants fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

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