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Libyan GNA fighters head for front as battle for Sirte looms

Tawergha, LibyaLibya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) on Saturday, July 18 moved fighters closer to Sirte, a gateway to Libya's main oil terminals that the GNA says it plans to recapture from the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

Witnesses and GNA military commanders said a column of about 200 vehicles moved eastwards from Misrata along the Mediterranean coast towards the town of Tawergha, about a third of the way to Sirte. The GNA recently recaptured most of the territory held by the LNA in northwest Libya, ending eastern commander Khalifa Haftar's 14-month campaign to take the capital, Tripoli, before the new front line solidified between Misrata and Sirte. Backed by Turkey, the GNA has said it will recapture Sirte and an LNA airbase at Jufra.

But Egypt, which backs the LNA alongside the United Arab Emirates and Russia, has threatened to send troops into Libya if the GNA and Turkish forces try to seize Sirte. The United States has said Moscow has sent warplanes to Jufra via Syria to act in support of Russian mercenaries who are fighting alongside the LNA. Moscow and the LNA both deny this.
"As part of our preparations to complete the second stage of liberating Sirte and Jufra region, our forces are preparing for this stage and these troops are part of the forces as you see now. They are getting ready to go to the fighting points and you will hear the good news in the upcoming days." said Colonel Omar Bin Rashed, Military Commander with government of national accord (GNA) Forces.

The LNA has itself sent fighters and weapons to bolster its defence of Sirte, already badly battered from earlier phases of warfare and chaos since the 2011 revolution against long-time autocrat Muammar Gaddafi.

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