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East Libyan Force Claims Recapture 2 Key Oil Ports

  • VOA News

FILE - Pipelines are seen at the industrial zone at the oil port of Ras Lanuf, Libya, Jan. 11, 2017.

Forces led by renegade Libyan General Khalifa Haftar are claiming to have recaptured two key Mediterranean oil installations in eastern Libya, after both sites were seized by an Islamist-led force early this month.

Libya broke into rival political and armed factions in 2011 after the government of longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi was toppled and Gadhafi was killed. Two rival governments and a host of local militia are currently battling for control of the oil-rich country.

A Haftar spokesman said Tuesday the ports of Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra were recaptured from a jihadist militia called the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), after a daylong assault by air, ground and naval forces.

Haftar and his so-called Libyan National Army back an administration operating from the far eastern Libyan city of Tobruk that refuses to cede power to the United Nations-backed unity Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

The stalemate has left the North African Country of 6.4 million residents without effective governance for nearly six years. Many diplomats and activists describe post-Gadhafi Libya as one of the most unstable countries in the world.

Haftar, a one-time Gadhafi ally who seized control last September of most coastal oil installations, has continued to allow oil revenues to flow to the central bank in Tripoli. He has since won the backing of Russia, which insists the Libyan general must have a role in any effective unity government.

For its part, the United Nations says it is reviewing evidence of human rights violations in the latest fighting along Libya's oil coastline, while cautioning that conditions are likely to worsen in the coming days.

A U.N. spokeswomen in Geneva said Tuesday there have been "credible reports" suggesting that summary executions, hostage-taking, torture and other human rights violations have been occurring since the violence flared on March 3.

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