Fighting in Obari between LNA and Ali Kana forces – Al Marsad

Libya, 7 February 2019 – Fighting broke out in the south western town of Obari today, when forces under the control of General Ali Kana tried to capture the town. It was secured yesterday, Wednesday, by the Libyan national Army’s 177th Infantry Battalion.

According to the director of Obari Hospital, Mansour al-Jundi , the death toll in the clashes in the Tuareg-majority town until Thursday afternoon were eight dead and seven wounded.

Military sources said that the army lost two soldiers: Ahmed Issa al-Taraki of the 173rd Infantry Battalion and Mohamed Odhaya al-Hasnawi of 177th Infantry Battalion. Four soldiers were wounded.

Kana fighters are said to have lost six members with three others wounded. All of were taken to the hospital.

Kana was appointed by Presidency Council (PC) head Faiez Sarraj yesterday as military commander of the Sebha region.

Earlier today, a senior source close to the Kana forces confirmed that they had received the order from Sarraj in his capacity as “supreme commander of the Libyan army”, and approved by other PC members, to take what he described as “measures to defend the town of Obari”. The source added Sarraj had promised to provide all necessary means to “build and support the armed forces”.

The clashes between Battalion 177 commanded by Colonel Khalifa Ali al-Saghir and the Kana forces started in the south of the town in the early hours of the morning. At that point it was reported that one person had been killed and three wounded.

The source said that clashes had taken place in areas where what he described as “Haftar militias” were positioned. He stressed that his forces were coordinating the operation with the PC and that it was part of the move to secure Sharara oilfield. They were also liaising with Maj.-Gen. Usama Juwaili, the commander of the PC’s western military zone.

The source claimed that Kana’s Tuareg forces would be able to secure all of Ubari by themselves and that they needed no support from elsewhere.

In response to the accusation by LNA spokesman Brig. Ahmed al-Mismari that Kana was implementing an agenda brought from Doha where he had stayed as well as providing cover for al-Qaeda operatives in southern Libya, the source rejected these and praised the mediation of Qatar that resulted in the 2015 Doha deal that ended the fighting in Obari between the Tuareg  and Tebu.

After entering Obari yesterday,  LNA troops were deployed in various neighbourhoods. Anti-terrorist and internal security units carried out searches for al-Qaeda fugitives believed to be hiding in the town, among them a number who had fled there from Algeria and Mali.

Attempts by Almarsad to obtain a comment on the clashes and the role of Ali Kana from the “Supreme Commander’s Office” run by Sarraj in Tripoli’s Busetta naval base did not succeed.  Maj.-Gen. Mahmoud Abdel Jalil, the office director, refused to make a statement.

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