Rival Libyan forces clash near Sirte


East Libya-based forces carried out air strikes on a coastal road west of Sirte, a day after nine men were killed in a strike by rivals.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) took control of Sirte, a strategically important city in the centre of Libya’s Mediterranean coastline, in a rapid advance on Monday and is seeking to consolidate gains.

Since April, the LNA has been waging a campaign to take Tripoli, north-west of Sirte, where it is battling forces aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

GNA forces withdrew from Sirte to avoid bloodshed.

The forces are mainly from Misrata, 1east of Tripoli and controlled Sirte since driving Islamic State from the city in 2016.

On Tuesday, clashes broke out around al-Washka, between Sirte and Misrata, where LNA sources said nine men were killed in a drone strike.

On Wednesday, the LNA responded with strikes near the Abu Grein checkpoint, close to al-Washka, where clashes were continuing, LNA military officials said.

Libya has been divided since 2014 into rival camps based in Tripoli and the east, each with its own set of institutions. Haftar’s offensive against Tripoli upended UN efforts to broker a political settlement.

Regional powers upped intervention, with Turkey backing the GNA and the LNA receiving support from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt.

The European Union’s top diplomat and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Italy this week condemned Turkish plans to send military experts and trainers to Libya, saying interference was exacerbating instability.