By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli/Tunis, 20 March 2015:
Following yesterday’s reported advances between Ghariyan and Aziziya by Libya National Army forces, it . . .[restrict]is claimed that they have taken the Warshefana towns of Aziziya and Zahra today from Libya Dawn. The latter’s fighters are said to have left earlier. One report claims that LNA forces are now within 20 kilometres of Qasr Ben Gashir and Tripoli’s destroyed international airport.
However, both Salah Badi, the Libya Dawn commander from Misrata, and former deputy defence minister Khaled Sharif have both gone on TV to deny the claims. Speaking on Al-Nabaa TV, which strongly supports Dawn, Badi said he was in Aziziya but also said said that his forces were kicking the LNA out of the town. Gunfire could be heard in the background while he was speaking by phone to the channel.
For his part, Sharif, said to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, likewise insisted that the LNA’s claims were false and that life was normal in Tripoli. However, it was possible that there were some LNA sleeper cells in and around the capital, he conceded, adding that some LNA fighters had been arrested.
Pro-Dawn media meanwhile claim that although LNA forces attempted to move towards Tripoli this morning, they were beaten back and that LD forces are now within nine kilometres from Wattiya airbase.
Zintani commander Abubakr Al-Ejami, in charge of the unit holding Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi, has added to the confusion with a claim this afternoon that LNA forces are within striking distance of Tripoli International Airport and that they will enter the capital within two days.
In the city itself, Libya Dawn checkpoints appear to have vanished, although this could be connected to the fact that it is Friday. However, a Libya Dawn convoy, allegedly Misratan, was seen on the Tripoli Highway this afternoon heading towards Misrata. The city is very quiet at the moment although occasional distant heavy artillery fire can be heard.
Despite claims last night that the LNA would enter Zawia, there appears to have been no such move. However, there are reports of clashes in the town between the Farouq Brigade, which is part of Libya Dawn, and local youths allegedly supporting Operation Dignity.
Meanwhile a statement from Ghariyan elders is said to be expected this evening. There are unconfirmed reports that the mountain town is now surrounded by LNA forces. [/restrict]