By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 4 June 2017:
Political figures from the east of the country have lauded the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) rapid takeover of central Libya’s Jufra district and its strategically important airbase. Rebel Presidency Council member Ali Qatrani led the plaudits saying that the complete liberation of Libya of terrorists was “looming on the horizon”.
He also thanked the work of “loyalists” in the region who supported the LNA, a reference to the armed Jufra locals who fought alongside Khalifa Hafter’s troops.
Local member of the House of Representatives (HoR) Ismail Al-Sharif has been quoted saying that six young men from Waddan were killed fighting alongside the LNA against the Benghazi Defence Brigade and Chadian mercenaries on Saturday.
House of Representatives President Ageela Saleh again reiterated his support for the LNA in a statement praising what had been achieved in Jufra district. They were working, he said, to rid Libya of terrorism and stabilise the country.
He condemned the use of foreign forces by the Benghazi Defence Brigades, describing them criminals and “agents”. Most are believed to have been Chadian mercenaries.
Ironcially, the LNA has also been accused of using Chadian as well as Sudanese mercenaries.
The second deputy HoR president, Ahmaid Huma, also thanked locals for supporting the LNA as it consolidated its control of Jufra. He also called on the people of Jufra to unify and reject their differences in order to “purge” the region of terrorism. He nonetheless
Numerous civil society organisations as well as security bodies in the east have similarly issued statements welcoming the takeover.
The comments came after LNA chief Hafter “saluted” his forces for their work in taking Jufra airbase and the surrounding towns. He also thanked locals who fought alongside the LNA.
In Waddan, a local activist told the Libya Herald that the townsfolk were extremely happy that the militants had been expelled and the army taken control.
She explained that there had been some problems in the town, such as the banks having no cash, but that it had been peaceful until Chadian fighters arrived three days ago. Immediately, she said, armed locals started fighting them to try and force them out. That finally only happened when the LNA arrived.