LNA forces retake district south of Tripoli

Images, videos on social media and Libyan television appear to show LNA troops entering Al-Assabia area after string air strikes on GNA forces.

TRIPOLI - Military commander Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army forces said they retook a district south of Tripoli on Monday from pro-unity government troops.

"Units of the armed forces were able to seize the Al-Assabia area this morning after a string of air strikes" on forces backing the Government of National Accord, said Ahmad al-Mesmari, a spokesman for Haftar's forces.

Images and videos on social media and Libyan television appeared to show Haftar's troops entering the area, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Tripoli.

Pro-GNA forces said Monday they had escalated their own air raids in Al-Assabia, without confirming they had lost the district.

The 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Gathafi plunged Libya into years of chaos, with two rival administrations and scores of militias struggling for power.

Haftar, who controls much of eastern and southern Libya, launched an offensive last spring to seize Tripoli from the United Nations-recognised GNA.

Foreign support for the warring parties has added to the fighting, with Haftar receiving Emirati and Russian support while Turkey has increasingly backed the GNA with drones and air defence systems and Syrian mercenaries.

The number of Syrian fighters in Libya has so far reached 9,000 while Turkey initially planned to send no more than 6,000 fighters, due to the impact of the losses incurred by Ankara’s allies against LNA fighters.

The LNA forces have been pressing on with the liberation of the capital and rid it from extremists.

Over the past year, the fighting has left hundreds of dead including many civilians and forced some 200,000 people to flee their homes.

On Sunday, rocket fire on Tripoli killed at least five civilians, the GNA said, blaming Haftar's forces.