Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) claimed victory on Thursday after liberating the capital, Tripoli, from rebel leader Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on Thursday.
Mohamad Gnounou, a spokesman for forces supporting the U.N.-backed GNA, confirmed the development on Thursday.
“In these historic moments, we announce that all municipal boundaries of Tripoli have been liberated,” he proclaimed.
On Wednesday, the GNA also took back control of Tripoli’s international airport, which the LNA had seized last year.
The LNA and its foreign backers — Russia, Egypt, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates — have tried for over a year to seize the capital from the GNA, which is backed by Turkey and Turkish-supported Syrian militias.
Over the past year, Khalifa Haftar led the LNA to successfully take over many sites in and around Tripoli, such as strategic towns and military camps south of the city, but he failed to fully occupy the capital. On May 24, more than 1,000 Russian and Syrian mercenary troops allied to the LNA retreated from Tripoli, marking a major setback for Haftar.
GNA commander Mohamad al-Gammoudi told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday that GNA forces had taken back several districts throughout southern Tripoli as well as an airbase used by the LNA. He said GNA forces were closing in on Tarhouna, a strategic town south of the capital used by Haftar’s forces. The commander claimed the GNA was on the verge of taking back the town and that victory over the LNA stronghold was “just a question of time.”
Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj said on Thursday that the GNA forces would continue to capitalize on the recent gains made in the battle for the country, according to AFP. “Our fight continues and we are determined to defeat the enemy, impose state control on the whole of the homeland and destroy all those who jeopardize the construction of a civil, democratic, and modern state,” Sarraj said.