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LIBYA: Haftar Retakes the Initiative

By Timothy Adder

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TRIPOLI – A few months ago, Khalifa Haftar declared the “zero hour for the capture of Tripoli. Indeed, the stalemate that had lasted until then began to crumble and the LNA forces under the command of Haftar began to push towards the heart of Tripoli. Several elite brigades were deployed on the southbound line, resulting in penetration all the way to the second line of Tripoli’s defenses.

In the meantime, LNA forces were able to take over the strategically important city of Sirte and set up a front about 80km south of Misrata. Erdogan’s intervention appears to have extended the life of the GNA government for several months. Hundreds of armored vehicles, Turkish drones and Turkish “advisors” have temporarily stabilized the front.

To avoid sending larger Turkish contingents to Syria, Erdogan sent thousands of Syrian terrorists loyal to Turkey. Indeed, this intervention by Erdogan and Turkey has yielded results. The front was temporarily stopped and there was another stalemate. New breakthrough attempts by Haftar forces in southern Tripoli were halted, while the front near Misrata ended with several battles in the Abu Grein area.

After months of what seemed as another stalemate, the LNA forces launched a new offensive to the border with Tunisia, which was quickly executed, fully encircling the town of Zuwara. The reinforcements that Turkey sent to Libya were mostly wasted.

Downed Turkish drone

First of all, it should be noted that the LNA forces, armed with the “Pantsir” systems received from the UAE, inflicted very heavy losses on the Turkish drones, which were one of the main factors in the repulsion of the LNA offensive to the coast. In recent days, Turkey has lost five of them.

Syrian terrorists, who were sent by Turkey to GNA’a help, also suffered heavy casualties, with more than 600 dead or severely wounded. There were also deserters among them, many of whom realized that Erdogan was just using them as cannon fodder, without a clear strategic goal.

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Turkey does not want to get openly involved in the war in Libya because it would likely provoke Egypt’s intervention, which would quickly seal the fate of the GNA government. On the other hand, Turkey’s assistance has only led to an extension of agony and it’s clear that the LNA has the initiative which has limited Turley’s operations to coastal areas only.

GNA communications vehicle

GNA government-controlled territories are marred by oil and gas shortages, and militias who have been fighting for the GNA government have not been paid for months. GNA has been collapsing in every way, not only militarily. The advantage clearly belongs to Haftar. The desperate resistance offered by the Muslim Brotherhood is tied to a very significant factor – their struggle for physical survival.

In the last two months of the confrontation, Turkey has lost at least 15 drones and more than 50 armored vehicles at the frontline near Tripoli and southern Misrata. One of the rare instances of the last desperate push by the GNA forces was today’s successful taking of a narrow border strip with Tunisia.

However, the main advantage of Haftar’s forces is that about 30% of LNA troops participate in the battle, while 30% take part in keeping their territory under control, while the rest is on vacation or training additional forces, while on the other hand, GNA is forced to use virtually 90% of its troops on the frontline.

The disadvantage of Haftar’s troops is, first and foremost, the use of heavy armor, which needs to be replaced as soon as it gets damaged (mostly tanks and self-propelled artillery), because the experience has shown that without the use of large heavy armor formations, taking on well-defended targets is difficult to achieve. Time works for Haftar and his allies. It’s time for the war in Libya to enter its final phase.

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