Tamanhent attacked by Sarraj forces then retaken by LNA – Al Marsad

Libya, 18 April 2019 – Tamenhint airbase near Sebha is said to have suffered significant damage early today, Thursday, after coming under attack from forces linked to the Presidency Council (PC). However, it was later re-secured by the Libyan National Army’s 73rd Infantry Division.

On its Facebook page, the “Southern Protection Force” (SPF), which is led by Gen. Ali Kana, claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming that it was ordered to attack by the Presidential Council. It says that it had been told to “liberate it from the groups of chaos and coup” and restore it to the legitimate control of the PC.  It was part of the so-called “Volcano of Fury” operation which the PC’s military commanders announced on 7 April against the LNA, following the latter’s offensive to secure Tripoli.

PC head Faiez Sarraj appointed Ali Kana on 6 February as commander of the PC’s Sebha military region. Until now, however, he has been generally rejected by his own Tuareg community and ineffective in opposing the LNA in the south.

According to the LNA, the SPF unit involved in the attack was composed of mainly Chadian mercenaries who went on the rampage, causing considerable damage to the airport. It had recently been rehabilitated and handed over by the LNA to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Confirmation that the attackers were under orders from the PC came from Khalid al-Mishri, the head of the Tripoli-based State Council, who said that “by taking control of Tamenhint, we have taken over the entire south”.  Tripoli’s Wataniya TV station, also indicated that the attack was in support fof the PC, referring to the SPF “carrying out the attack against “Haftar militias”.

A spokesman for the 73rd Division said that the attack on Tamenhint had been an attempt to divert LNA’s forces from the fighting in Tripoli.

According to LNA sources, a couple of men managed to enter the base and started shooting after which defenders withdrew to prevent any further damage and to regroup. Following this, some 30 other attackers managed to enter. LNA reinforcements then arrived from Sebha and counter-attacked, supported by the air force, resulting in the SPF fleeing into the surrounding desert.

Five LNA soldiers were reported to have suffered light wounds in the incident.

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