By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 3 November 2016:
The Libyan National Army is strengthening its forces at the Ras Lanuf, Sidra and Zueitina oil terminals and a number of oilfields in Jufra district according to sources close to the LNA.
The move follows claims, largely from pro-LNA media, that the acting defence minister in Government of National Accord, Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi, is busy mobilising his own forces to retake the oilfields and terminals. These forces are said to comprise fighters from Misrata, from the pro-Islamist Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) (specifically those under Mustafa Al-Sharksi, Ziyad Belam, Ismail Salabi and Muftah Hamza) and those still loyal to Ibrahim Jadhran.
“The LNA are making preparations for this,” the source told the Libya Herald, “but the details are not being announced yet”.
The LNA’s belief that Barghathi is about to make a move follows his arrival three days ago at Jufra airbase between Waddan and Hun, supposedly to make preparations for a counter-offensive.
He is also reported to have said that he intended to move a number of defence ministry operations out of Tripoli to the airbase.
Yesterday, stating that the LNA was closely monitoring the situation, its spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mismari claimed that in any event it already controlled the entire south of the country “from Waw An-Namus down to the Murzuk region and even the Sudanese-Egyptian border”. It would, he insisted, be ready to deal with any emergency in Jufra.
Such claims, however, have been contested by the Misratans who have denied having any plans to mobilise and move against the Jufra fields.
The spokesman of the Third Force, Mohammed Egliwan has said that the road from Jufra to Sebha is secure and in their hands.
Without the Misratans, still heavily preoccupied in Sirte, any chance of military success on the part of Barghathi against the LNA would be highly unlikely. The BDB was forced to retreat in the summer when it attempted an offensive against Benghazi.