TRIPOLI

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on Monday praised the country’s retaking of the Al-Watiya airbase from militias loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar. 

Earlier Monday, the Libyan army retook the key airbase after some six years in the hands of the putschist forces.

“We proudly announce the liberation of Al-Watiya military base from the grip of criminal militias,” al-Sarraj who is also the Commander in Chief of the Libyan army, said in a statement.

He went on to say: “Today’s victory does not mark the end of the battle. Rather, it brings us closer to the big day of victory by liberating all cities and regions and permanently eliminating the [Haftar-led] project of domination and tyranny.”

Meanwhile, the Libyan army said the Al-Watiya airbase would become active once the entire surrounding areas were secured and that it would contribute to the liberation of other southern areas, including Tarhouna city.

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 Mahmoud Barakat

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