Renewed clashes between factions in Libya's south

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2017 4:25 PM

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Rival Libyan forces clashed in near a southern air base on Thursday, dimming hopes that tensions in the area can be calmed.

A spokesman for eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) said a brigade loyal to them had repelled an attack against Brak Al-Shati base by a rival faction.

Some LNA men had been killed and wounded but it was not clear how many, said spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari. The LNA's opponents attacked because they thought the brigade stationed at the base were still away after attending a major military parade near Benghazi, he said.

Media close to the LNA's rivals earlier reported that they had overrun the base.

Over the past few months the area around Brak Al-Shati, including another base at Tamanhent and the southern city of Sabha, has become a flashpoint between forces loyal to the LNA, led by eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, and rivals aligned with current and former governments in the capital, Tripoli.

Earlier this month Haftar broke a long deadlock by meeting the head of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, and both agreed to try to calm the situation in the south.

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