The Libyan army on Tuesday attacked posts at Al-Watiya airbase occupied by militias loyal to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar as well as a base used by mercenaries of Russia’s Wagner Group, which supports him. 

Artillery units of the Libyan army targeted the airbase, located 140 kilometers (86 miles) southwest of the capital Tripoli, and the Russian mercenaries’ base, according to a statement by the Libyan government-led Operation Volcano of Rage.

The mercenaries were using the base for observation, intelligence and organizing operations, it added.

Al-Watiya, which is currently controlled by forces loyal to Haftar, is regarded as a key airbase in the country and is second only to Mitiga International Airport.

It was captured in August 2014 by Haftar, the leader of illegal armed forces in eastern Libya, who used it as his headquarters for western operations.

Haftar has intensified attacks on civilians since the beginning of May as the Libyan Army recently gained an advantage and inflicted severe losses on his militias.

The government has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. It launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital.

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political deal.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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