East Libyan forces target rivals' air base in central desert region

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 05, 2017 4:14 PM

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - East Libyan forces said on Wednesday they had carried out air strikes and a ground attack on an air base controlled by rivals from the western city of Misrata.

Tamanhent air base, near the city of Sabha, is on a frontline between loose armed alliances based in eastern and western Libya that have been vying for control in an on-off conflict since 2014.

The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) has been gaining ground in recent months, and had committed to pursuing opponents in the desert region north and east of Sabha after losing and recapturing two key oil ports last month.

"The General Command announced today the launch of military ground operations to liberate Tamanhent base ...with the participation of the air force," said LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari.

He said ground clashes, which were confirmed by a Sabha resident, were continuing late on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear what damage or casualties had resulted from the fighting.

Also on Wednesday, a group of 16 LNA troops wounded in earlier fighting were flown to Italy for medical treatment. Italy evacuated a first group last month.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Aidan Lewis; editing by John Stonestreet)