East Libya government delegation visit Sabha


A high-level delegation from Libya’s parallel government in the east visited the main southern city Sabha after its forces seized control of the city, an official said.

The eastern government is allied to Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) this month launched a campaign in south-western Libya.

Sabha was nominally under control of the internationally recognised government in Tripoli but was actually run by local groups including tribes.

Control of Sabha is vital for securing southern Libya’s oilfields, a stated goal of the LNA campaign.

The interior, health and junior justice ministers of the eastern government in Benghazi met local Sabha municipality officials in pictures sent to Reuters by the visiting delegation.

Officials later visited the main hospital and a court, journalists said.

Tripoli officials could not be reached for comment on the visit, further highlighting the internationally recognised government’s continued lack of authority in most of Libya.

Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj said during a visit to Vienna on Monday “many things” were not going well in the south, but did not allude to the eastern delegation visit or the LNA advance.

“Regarding the south we need better support for our security forces. We need more co-operation between all security forces,” he said.

The LNA secured Sabha airport and other strategic sites in the area in recent days, after local groups handed them over without a fight.

The LNA says its campaign aims at combating militant groups and securing oil facilities, which include El Sharara oilfield, Libya’s biggest.

On Monday LNA forces killed suspected al Qaeda fighter Adel Ahmed al-Abdaly when they stormed his house in Sabha, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said. The city has been largely quiet since the arrival of the LNA.

Al Qaeda and Islamic State use southern Libya as a base for attacks in Libya and neighbouring countries, exploiting a security vacuum created by the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 rebellion backed by NATO air strikes.