Libyan Army takes strategic Tarhuna city
Forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government captured the last major stronghold of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar near Tripoli on June 5, capping the sudden collapse of his 14-month offensive on the capital.
Military sources in Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) said their forces had withdrawn from the town of Tarhuna. They headed towards Sirte, far along the coast, and the airbase of al-Jufra in central Libya. The LNA made no immediate official comment.
The advance extends the control of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and allied forces across most of northwest Libya, reversing many of Haftar's gains from last year when he raced towards Tripoli.
The GNA has been backed by Turkey, while Haftar, whose LNA still controls the east and oil fields in the south, has been supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
The United Nations has started holding talks with both sides for a ceasefire deal in recent days, though previous truces have not stuck. The GNA gains could entrench the de facto partition of Libya into zones controlled by rival eastern and western governments whose foreign backers compete for regional sway.
Turkish military support for the GNA, with drone strikes, air defenses and supply of allied Syrian fighters, was key to its recent successes.
Ankara regards Libya as crucial to defending its interests in the eastern Mediterranean.
However, the LNA still retains its foreign support. Washington said last week Moscow had sent warplanes to LNA-held Jufra, though Russia and the LNA denied this.
The United Nations says weapons and fighters have flooded into the country in defiance of an arms embargo, risking a deadlier escalation. Meanwhile, a blockade of oil ports...