The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, on June 28 sent military reinforcements from the 128th Infantry Battalion to the central Libyan region to repel any attempts by the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces to advance toward the key city of Sirte and al-Jafra air base.
During an inspection tour of the Egyptian armed forces in the western military zone on June 20, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had said that Egypt would not allow the Libyan pro-government forces to cross “Sirte and al-Jafra,” as these constitute a red line for Egypt’s national security. Sisi alluded to military intervention in Libya.
Sirte is located 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from the Egyptian border, an equal distance between the capital city of Tripoli, which is controlled by the GNA, and Benghazi, which is controlled by the LNA.
Taking control of Sirte would pave the way for tightening the grip on Libya’s oil ports in the east. Al-Jafra, which is located in the center of the country, is one of the largest air bases and a major operations room for the Hifter-led forces. In other words, controlling these two would lead to controlling the Libyan east, and this poses a clear threat to Egypt’s western borders, according to military experts.
Sisi’s statements and declaration of intent to militarily intervene in Libya come following a series of defeats suffered by Hifter’s forces over the past weeks against the GNA and the Turkey-led armed militias, most recently in Tarhuna, Hifter’s last stronghold in the west of the country from which he withdrew in favor of the GNA forces on June 5. Earlier, the GNA had regained full control of Tripoli and its suburbs after Hifter’s attempts to liberate it from the grip of the militias in a battle he launched in April 2019.
Read more: al-monitor