By Sami Zaptia.
London, 13 June 2018:
The Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA) Air Force revealed yesterday that it had carried out three airstrikes against ‘‘Al-Qaeda terrorist gangs formed of terrorists fleeing Benghazi and foreign mercenaries from Africa’’.
According to a statement posted yesterday on the LNA’s official Facebook page the operation took place after monitoring, follow-up and establishing their location with the first airstrike taking place Tuesday at 10 am and two further raids at 3 pm on positions 60 km south of Sirte. The statement said that the airstrikes achieved direct hits and the LNA jet fighters had returned safely to their bases.
The locations of the LNA airstrikes have raised questions about the areas of operation of the LNA and the Faiez Serraj Presidency Council / Government of National Accord (PC/GNA) aligned forces.
It will be recalled that in the beginning of April this year, the Faiez Serraj-led PC/GNA had launched an anti-terror military campaign entitled operation ‘‘Nation’s Storm’’.
The PC had said that operation ‘‘Nation’s Storm’’ aimed to target ISIL/Daesh terror remnants and dens starting from the 60 km checkpoint east of Misrata to the outskirts of Bani Walid, Tarhuna, Khoms and Zliten.
Furthermore, at a later April press conference held by Serraj’s personal spokesperson Mohamed El-Sallak, it was asserted that the geographical area of the operation was already completely free of any elements of terrorist organizations and that the operation’s patrols were stationed in the region and fully securing it.
El-Sallak had assured that the Anti-Terror Force had not and will not enter any city or region, and that its tasks are limited to dealing with any potential targets in the valleys and reefs in the suburbs of the named towns and cities.
On the 18 April press conference El-Sallak again confirmed that the Nation’s Storm operation room was continuing its operations, which he said now included the gathering of information on any presence of terrorist elements in areas outside the previously defined geographical area of operations. He went on to confirm that the operation room was in full control of their area of operations and that the area of operations was devoid of any terrorists or their dens. Operation Nation’s Storm was not mentioned in any further official statement by the Serraj PC after that.
It must also be recalled that Serraj heads Libyan Armed Forces based in western Libya. He, his Presidency Council and his forces are recognized by the international community. Khalifa Hafter, meanwhile, is commander of the predominantly eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).