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Renewed Clashes Undermine Tripoli Truce as Sarraj Warns against Ongoing Oilfields Closure

Renewed Clashes Undermine Tripoli Truce as Sarraj Warns against Ongoing Oilfields Closure

Tuesday, 21 January, 2020 - 06:45
A fighter loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord patrols an area south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. (AFP)
Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud

The ceasefire declared in the Libyan capital Tripoli appeared on the verge of collapse on Monday after the renewal of clashes between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA).

An LNA field commander told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The ceasefire has all but collapsed.”

The unrest also undermines the Berlin peace conference that was held on Sunday. The summit agreed that the tentative truce in Tripoli should be turned into a permanent ceasefire to allow a political process to take place.

Youssef al-Amin, a commander for the pro-GNA forces in Ain Zara, said that the troops “thwarted an advance” by the LNA on several fronts in Tripoli.

The sound of rocket and mortar fire could be heard around Tripoli.

The LNA command center accused the GNA of firing heavy artillery on residential areas in the Salaheddine area south of Tripoli, in what it said was a new violation of the truce and Berlin conference agreement.

Meanwhile, GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj warned that Libya will face a “catastrophic situation” unless foreign powers put pressure on LNA commander Khalifa Haftar to lift a blockade of oilfields that has cut output to almost zero.

Haftar’s forces have closed Libya’s major oil ports since Friday. Libya’s National Oil Corp declared force majeure on crude loadings from the Sharara and El Feel oilfields, according to a document sent to traders that was seen by Reuters on Monday.

The document said individuals under the supervision of the Petroleum Facilities Guard blocked pipelines linking the Sharara oilfield to the Zawiya oil terminal and the El Feel oilfield to the Mellitah terminal.

Sarraj told Reuters he rejects LNA demands to link a reopening of oil ports to a new distribution of oil revenues among Libyans, saying such income was in any case meant to benefit the entire country.

Tribesmen in areas controlled by the LNA on Friday stormed the eastern Zueitina oil export port and announced the closure of all terminals under LNA control.

Libya’s oil production was an estimated 1.3 million barrels a day before the closures.

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