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Libyan govt warns of ‘hostile forces’ near Sirte

TRIPOLI (AA): Any attempt to attack Libya’s northern city of Sirte would amount to a “declaration of war”, the consequences of which would be “disastrous”, the UN-backed Libyan government’s military apparatus warned Thursday. The warning was issued by Mohamed al-Ghosri, a spokesman for the Tripoli-based government’s Al-Bunyan al-Marsous Forces, who went on to warn against involving Sirte in “a fresh conflict”.

Last week, Al-Bunyan al-Marsous was placed on high alert after “hostile forces” were reportedly spotted near Sirte, which is located some 450 kilometers southeast of capital Tripoli. At the time, al-Ghosri had identified the “hostile forces” as those loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a military commander affiliated with a rival government based in Libya’s eastern city of Al-Bayda. According to al-Ghosri, Sirte has enjoyed security since the Al-Bunyan al-Marsous Forces liberated the city from the Daesh terrorist group in 2016.

Earlier this week, local activists posted video footage online purportedly showing pro-Haftar forces near Sirte’s southern entrance. Libya has remained beset by violence turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power. Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power one in Al-Bayda (with which Haftar is affiliated) and another in Tripoli along with a host of heavily-armed militia groups.