Forces loyal to eastern-based Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar seized control of large swaths of the coastal city of Sirte, in a setback for the embattled internationally recognized government, APA reports citing Libyan media.
The capture of Sirte is symbolic and strategic for Haftar’s Libyan National Army, the country’s most organized military force. In April, it launched an offensive to capture the capital, Tripoli, but has become bogged down in heavy fighting in the city’s suburbs.
LNA forces took control of the port, as well as most of the city’s districts and an air base, Libya’s al-Hadath TV reported.
Sirte, which was the base for Islamic State’s affiliate in Libya before it was largely defeated, serves as a springboard to the city of Misrata, whose powerful militias are assisting Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in defending the capital.
Securing the city also helps solidify Haftar’s control over Libya’s oil-rich regions.