After a string of costly losses to the Government of National Accord (GNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA) have attempted to regain the initiative by moving towards the strategic town of Ghariyan (شعبية غريان). Thus far, they have retaken the town of Asabiah (عصبيّة) and successfully carried out multiple airstrikes against positions held by GNA troops or allies.
We assess that this new LNA operation was formulated with the intent of drawing GNA fighters into the less-populated outskirts of Tripoli, thus allowing Haftar to use his newly acquired air power to wreak havoc on opposition forces.
Turkish support for the GNA, specifically its use of air defense systems and drones, had previously tipped the scales in the favor of Libya's internationally recognized government. Today, however, the balance of power has shifted once again. Haftar will be able to utilize new aircraft and equipment from Russia to get the LNA back on the offensive. These Russian aircraft, likely piloted by Russian pilots, will undoubtedly provide air support for the LNA and its allies on their push into Tripoli.
Conflict has gripped Libya since 2011, when Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a popular uprising. The current war is the result of in-fighting between the Tripoli-based GNA, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the House of Representatives allied to Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA).
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.