Forces opposed to Libya’s unity government have seized a fourth oil port, Brega, completing their takeover of vital installations in the North African country’s “oil crescent”, according to military sources.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli is struggling to assert its authority and has been facing staunch resistance from a rival administration based in Libya’s remote east.
Forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a renegade general, on Sunday launched an offense on Libya’s “oil crescent” along the northern coast.
Haftar, 73, who sees himself as Libya’s saviour after battling conservative armed groups out of most of second city Benghazi in the east, backs the Bayda-based parliament which has refused to grant the GNA a vote of confidence.
His forces fought off guards to gain control of the oil terminals at Ras Lanuf, Al-Sidra and Zuwaytania, and they finally secured Brega unopposed on Tuesday.
“We have taken control of the Brega port completely and without any fighting,” said Colonel Muftah al-Muqarief, who heads oil guards loyal to Haftar.
“The entire oil crescent region is now under our control,” Muqarief told AFP news agency.
Brega was taken largely thanks to “mediation involving residents and town elders”, he said.
The Brega takeover came just hours after the United States and its major European allies – which back the GNA – condemned Haftar’s offense.
The US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain said the UN-brokered government based in the capital, Tripoli, is the “sole steward of these resources,” adding that “Libya’s oil belongs to the Libyan people”.
“We also call on all forces to avoid any action that could damage Libya’s energy infrastructure or further disrupt its exports,” said the joint statement, issued late on Monday.
It also warned against “illicit oil exports”.
The statement echoed remarks by Martin Kobler, the UN special envoy, on Monday. -Aljazeera