Libyan Civil War (2014–present)

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Second Libyan Civil War
Part of the Arab Winter and the Libyan Crisis
Libyan Civil War.svg
Military situation in Libya on 8 January 2020
  Under the control of the House of Representatives and the Libyan National Army
  Under the control of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and different militias forming the Libya Shield Force
  Controlled by local forces
(For a more detailed 2019 map, see military situation in the Libyan Civil War)
Date16 May 2014 – present
(5 years, 10 months, 2 weeks and 3 days)


Main belligerents

Libya House of Representatives (Tobruk-based)[1][2]

JEM[7] (from 2016)
 Sudan (RSF)[10] (since 2019)
Russia Wagner Group[11][12][13]

Libya Gaddafi loyalists[32]

Libya Government of National Accord (Tripoli-based) (since 2016)

Libya National Salvation Government

Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries[59][60]
al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb[61]

Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna (2014–18)

Libya Benghazi Defense Brigades[63][64]

Ajdabiya Revolutionaries Shura Council (2015–16)[65]
Libya Derna Protection Force


Commanders and leaders

Libya Aguila Saleh Issa
(President of House of Representatives)
Libya Abdullah al-Thani
(Prime Minister)[73]
FM Khalifa Haftar
(Commander of Operation Dignity)
Col. Wanis Abu Khamada
(Commander of Libyan Special Forces)
Brig. Gen. Saqr Geroushi
(Chief of Staff of the Libyan Air Force)
Chief of Staff Abdel Razek Al-Nazuri (Libyan Ground Forces)
Adm. Faraj al-Mahdawi

Libya Saif al-Islam Gaddafi[74]
Libya Gen. Ali Kana (loyalist leader in Fezzan)[75][76]
Libya Fayez al-Sarraj
(Chairman of the Presidential Council and Prime minister)
Libya Col. Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi
(GNA Minister of Defense)
Rida Issa[34]
(Libyan Navy commander)

Libya Nouri Abusahmain (2014–16)
(President of the GNC)
Libya Khalifa al-Ghawi (2015–17)
(Prime Minister)[77]
Libya Sadiq Al-Ghariani
(Grand Mufti)

Abu Khalid al Madani 
(Ansar al-Sharia Leader)[78]
Mokhtar Belmokhtar
(Commander of Al-Mourabitoun, believed dead)[79]
Musa Abu Dawud  (AQIM southern Zone commander)[61]

Mohamed al-Zahawi [80]
(Former Ansar al-Sharia Leader)
Ateyah Al-Shaari DMSC / DPF leader
Wissam Ben Hamid [81]
(Libya Shield 1 Commander)
Salim Derby 
(Commander of Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade)[82]
Abu Nabil al-Anbari  (Top ISIL leader in Libya)[83][84]
Abu Hudhayfah al-Muhajir[85]
(ISIL governor of Wilayat Tripolitania)
Casualties and losses
8,788 killed[86][87][88][89]
20,000 injured (as of May 2015)[90][needs update]

The Second Libyan Civil War[91] is an ongoing conflict among rival factions seeking control of Libya. After erupting in 2014, the conflict is mostly between :

The House of Representatives (also known as the Council of Deputies) is the unicameral parliament of Libya relocated to Tobruk following the occupation of Tripoli by armed islamist groups in 2014. The House of Representatives is in control of eastern and central Libya and has the loyalty of the Libyan National Army of General Khalifa Haftar which was as officially made commander on 2 March 2015. The House of Representatives has been supported by airstrikes by Egypt and the UAE.[92] The General National Congress, based in western Libya and backed by various militias (mainly Libya Dawn in the west and Libya Shield in the east) with some support from Qatar and Turkey,[92][93][94][95] initially accepted the results of the 2014 election, but rejected them after the Supreme Constitutional Court nullified an amendment regarding the roadmap for Libya's transition and HoR elections.[13] Due to controversy about constitutional amendments, the HoR refused to take office from GNC in Tripoli,[96] which was controlled by powerful militias from the western coastal city of Misrata. Instead, the HoR established its parliament in Tobruk, which is controlled by General Haftar's forces.

In December 2015 the Libyan Political Agreement[97] was signed after long talks in Skhirat. The LPA was the result of protracted negotiations between rival political camps based in Tripoli, Tobruk, and elsewhere which agreed to unite as the Government of National Accord. On 30 March 2016, Fayez Sarraj, the head of the GNA, arrived in Tripoli and began working from there despite opposition from GNC.[98] Although the Government of National Accord is currently the only internationally recognized government in the country, its authority remains unrecognized by the House of Representatives, as specific details acceptable to both sides have not yet been agreed upon, especially regarding the future of Haftar.

In addition to those three factions, there are also smaller rival groups: the Islamist Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, led by Ansar al-Sharia, which had the support of the GNC and was defeated in Benghazi in 2017;[99][100][101] the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIL's) Libyan provinces;[102] the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna which expelled ISIL from Derna in July 2015 and was later itself defeated in Derna by the Tobruk government in 2018;[103] as well as many militias and armed groups, whose allegiances often change.[92][clarification needed]

In May 2016, the GNA and the GNC launched a joint offensive to capture areas in and around Sirte from ISIL. This offensive resulted in ISIL losing control of all significant territories previously held in Libya.[104][105] Later in 2016, forces loyal to Khalifa al-Ghawil attempted a coup d'état against Fayez al-Sarraj and the Presidential Council of the GNA.[106]

Background of discontent with General National Congress

At the beginning of 2014, Libya was governed by the General National Congress (GNC), which won the popular vote in 2012 elections. The GNC was made of two major political groupings, the National Forces Alliance (NFC) and the Justice and Construction Party (JCP). The two major groups in parliament had failed to reach political compromises on the larger more important issues that the GNC faced.

Division among these parties, the row over the political isolation law, and a continuous unstable security situation greatly impacted the GNC's ability to deliver real progress towards a new constitution for Libya which was a primary task for this governing body.[107]

The GNC also included members associated with conservative Islamist groups as well as revolutionary groups (thuwwar). Some members of the GNC had a conflict of interest due to associations with militias and were accused of channeling government funds towards armed groups and allowing others to conduct assassinations and kidnappings. Parties holding majority of seats and some holding minority of seats began to use boycotts or threats of boycotts which increased division and suppressed relevant debates by removing them from the congressional agenda;[108] voting to declare sharia law and establishing a special committee to "review all existing laws to guarantee they comply with Islamic law";[109] imposing gender segregation and compulsory hijab at Libyan universities; and refusing to hold new elections when its electoral mandate expired in January 2014[110] until General Khalifa Haftar launched a large-scale military offensive against the Islamists in May 2014, code-named Operation Dignity (Arabic: عملية الكرامة‎; 'Amaliyat al-Karamah).[111][112]

Political fragmentation of the GNC

The 2012 elections, overseen by the Libyan electoral commission with the support of the UN Special Mission In Libya (UNSMIL) and nongovernmental organizations like the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), have been considered "fair and free" by most Libyans. However, the elections did not necessarily create a strong government because the Parliament was fragmented due to the lack of organized political parties in Libya post-revolution. The GNC was made up of two major parties, the National Forces Alliance and the Justice and Construction Party, as well as independents in which some were moderates and others conservative Islamists. The GNC became a broad-based congress.[107]

The GNA elected Nouri Abusahmain as president of the GNC in June 2013.[113][114] He was considered an independent Islamist and a compromise candidate acceptable to liberal members of the congress, as he was elected with 96 out of a total of 184 votes by the GNC.[115]

GNC establishes the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR)

The GNC was challenged due to increasing security concerns in Tripoli. The GNC itself was attacked many times from militias and armed protesters who stormed the GNC assembly hall.[116] Following his appointment, Abusahmain was tasked with providing security. He set up the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR), which was initially intended to protect and secure Tripoli in August 2013. But this armed group was responsible for kidnapping Prime Minister Zeidan in October of that year resulting in the GNC dismissing it from its security function and Abusahmain himself as president.[117] During his term, Abusahmain blocked inquiries into the distribution of state funds and it was alleged that Abusahmain was channeling government funding towards the LROR.[115] The LROR was not an Islamist armed group but rather was made of rebels from the city of Gharyan. Its commander was Adel Gharyani.

In October 2013, following the kidnapping of the Prime Minister, Abusahmain used his presidency to change the agenda of the GNC in order to prevent a debate over disestablishing the LROR. At the same time, he cancelled a request to establish a committee to investigate the allocation, by Abusahmain himself, of 900 million Libyan Dinars (US$720 million) to the LROR and various other armed groups.[108] Instead, the LROR had its responsibilities reduced by the GNC but was allowed to continue to operate, and no one was prosecuted for the incident.

Kidnapping of Prime Minister Zeidan

The kidnapping of Zeidan was believed to be a coup attempt supported by members of the GNC, who viewed Zeidan as too moderate.[citation needed]

Most journalists reported that it was the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) (Ghurfat Amaliyat al-Thuwar) created by Abusahmain by decree 143 of 7 July. Yet there is evidence to suggest that this is not the case and that armed groups such as the Duru3 actually conducted the kidnapping.[118]

Expansion of armed groups during the GNC's term

Many Libyans blamed the GNC and the interim government for a continued lack of security in the country. The interim government struggled to control well-armed militias and armed groups that established during the revolution. Libyans in Benghazi especially began to witness assassinations and kidnapping and perceived the GNC to be turning a blind eye to the deteriorating security situation in the east.

But security concerns increased across the country allowing armed groups to expand in both Tripoli and in the east.

  • In 2012, the assassination of the US ambassador to Libya by Ansar al-Sharia took place.[119]
  • In October 2013, the kidnapping of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan by the LROR took place.
  • The kidnapping of Egyptian diplomats in January 2014 also by the LROR took place.
  • In March 2014, armed protesters allegedly linked to the LROR stormed the GNC parliament building, shooting and injuring two lawmakers and wounding several others.[116]

In April 2014, an anti-terrorist training base called "Camp 27", located between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, was taken over by forces fighting under the control of Abd al-Muhsin Al-Libi, also known as Ibrahim Tantoush,[120] a long-serving Al-Qaeda organizer and former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.[121] The Islamist forces at Camp 27 have subsequently been described as part of the Libya Shield Force.[122] The Libya Shield Force was already identified by some observers as linked to al-Qaeda as early as 2012.[123][124]

GNC's political isolation law

Although Islamists were outnumbered by Liberals and Centrists in the GNC, in May 2013 they lobbied for a law "banning virtually everyone who had participated in Gaddafi's government from holding public office". While several Islamist political parties and independents supported the law, as they generally had no associations to the Qaddafi regime, the law enjoyed strong public support. Polls demonstrated that a large majority of the Libyan people supported the exclusion of high-ranking Qaddafi-regime officials.[107]

The law particularly impacts elite expatriates and leaders of liberal parties. There existed reservations that such a law would eliminate technocratic expertise needed in Libya at the time.

Armed militiamen stormed government ministries, shut down the GNC itself and demanded the law's passage. This intimidated the GNC into passing the law in which 164 members approved the bill, with only four abstaining and no member opposing it.[107]

Suppression of women's rights

GNC opponents argue that it was supporting Islamist actions against women. Sadiq Ghariani, the Grand Mufti of Libya, is perceived to be linked closely to Islamist parties. He has issued fatwas ordering Muslims to obey the GNC,[125] and fatwas ordering Muslims to fight against Haftar's forces[126]

In March 2013, Sadiq Ghariani, the Grand Mufti, issued a fatwa against the UN Report on Violence Against Women and Girls. He condemned the UN report for "advocating immorality and indecency in addition to rebelliousness against religion and clear objections to the laws contained in the Quran and Sunnah".[127][128] Soon after the Grand Mufti issued a clarification op-ed that there should be no discrimination between men and women yet women have a greater role in the family, nevertheless, this does not mean Islam violates the rights of women.[129]

Later in 2013, lawyer Hamida Al-Hadi Al-Asfar, advocate of women's rights, was abducted, tortured and killed. It is alleged she was targeted for criticising the Grand Mufti's declaration.[130] No arrests were made.

In June 2013, two politicians, Ali Tekbali and Fathi Sager, appeared in court for "insulting Islam" for publishing a cartoon promoting women's rights.[131] Under sharia law they were facing a possible death penalty. The case caused widespread concern although they were eventually acquitted in March 2014. After the GNC was forced to accept new elections, Ali Tekbali was elected to the new House of Representatives.

Protesters stage a large demonstration in Shahat against the GNC's mandate extension plan.[111]

During Nouri Abusahmain's presidency of the GNC and subsequent to GNC's decision to enforce sharia law in December 2013, gender segregation and compulsory hijab were being imposed in Libyan universities from early 2014, provoking strong criticism from Women's Rights groups.

GNC extends its mandate without elections

The GNC failed to stand down at the end of its electoral mandate in January 2014, unilaterally voting on 23 December 2013 to extend its power for at least one year. This caused widespread unease and some protests. Residents of the eastern city of Shahat, along with protesters from Bayda and Sousse, staged a large demonstration, rejecting the GNC's extension plan and demanding the resignation of the congress followed by a peaceful power transition to a legitimate body. They also protested the lack of security, blaming the GNC for failing to build the army and police.[111] Other Libyans rejecting the proposed mandate rallied in Tripoli's Martyrs Square and outside Benghazi's Tibesti Hotel, calling for the freeze of political parties and the re-activation of the country's security system.[132]

On 14 February 2014, General Khalifa Haftar ordered the GNC to dissolve and called for the formation of a caretaker government committee to oversee new elections. However, his actions had little effect on the GNC, which called his actions "an attempted coup" and called Haftar himself "ridiculous" and labelled him an aspiring dictator. The GNC continued to operate as before. No arrests were made. Haftar launched Operation Dignity three months later, on 16 May.[133]

House of Representatives versus GNC

On 25 May 2014, about one week after Khalifa Haftar started his Operation Dignity offensive against the General National Congress, that body set 25 June 2014 as the date for new elections.[134] Islamists were defeated, but rejected the results of the election, which saw only an 18% turnout.[135][136] They accused the new House of Representatives parliament of being dominated by supporters of Gaddafi, and they continued to support the old GNC after the Council officially replaced it on 4 August 2014.[92][137]

The conflict escalated on 13 July 2014, when Tripoli's Islamists and Misratan militias launched Operation Libya Dawn to seize Tripoli International Airport, capturing it from the Zintan militia on 23 August. Shortly thereafter, members of the GNC, who had rejected the June election, reconvened as a new General National Congress and voted themselves as replacement of the newly elected House of Representatives, with Tripoli as their political capital, Nouri Abusahmain as president and Omar al-Hasi as prime minister. As a consequence, the majority of the House of Representatives were forced to relocate to Tobruk, aligning themselves with Haftar's forces and eventually nominating him army chief.[138] On 6 November, the supreme court in Tripoli, dominated by the new GNC, declared the House of Representatives dissolved.[139][140] The House of Representatives rejected this ruling as made "under threat".[141]

On 16 January 2015, the Operation Dignity and Operation Libya Dawn factions agreed on a ceasefire.[142] The country was then led by two separate governments, with Tripoli and Misrata controlled by forces loyal to Libya Dawn and the new GNC in Tripoli, while the international community recognized Abdullah al-Thani's government and its parliament in Tobruk.[143] Benghazi remained contested between pro-Haftar forces and radical Islamists.[144]

Opposing forces


The pro-GNC forces were a coalition of different militias with different ideologies although most of them are Islamist influenced especially in eastern Libya in Benghazi and Derna. Since LPA negotiations started in Skhirat there has been a rift within the militias over support for the UN-sponsored talks and the proposed Government of National Accord, which seeks to unite the rival governments.[145]

Since GNA started working from Tripoli in March 2015, Libya Dawn coalition the largest of Pro-GNC militias has been disbanded and most of its forces changed allegiances to GNA.[146]

Libya Dawn

The Islamist "Libya Dawn" has been described as "an uneasy coalition" identified as "terrorists" by the elected parliament in Tobruk[147] including "former al-Qaeda jihadists" who fought against Qaddafi in the nineties, members of Libya's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a "network of conservative merchants" from Misrata, whose fighters make up "the largest block of Libya Dawn's forces".[148] The coalition was formed in 2014 as a reaction against General Khalifa Haftar failed coup and to defeat Zintan brigades controlling Tripoli International Airport whose aligned with him.

The Zawia tribe has been allied to Libya Dawn since August 2014,[149] although in June 2014 at least one Zawia army unit had appeared to side with General Haftar, and reports in December claimed Zawia forces were openly considering breaking away from Libya Dawn.[150] Zawia militia have been heavily fighting the Warshefana tribe. In the current conflict, the Warshefana have been strongly identified with the forces fighting against both Libya Dawn and Al Qaeda. Zawia has been involved in a long-standing tribal conflict with the neighbouring Warshefana tribe since 2011.[151] The motivations of the Zawia brigades participation in the war have been described as unrelated to religion and instead deriving foremost from tribal conflict with the Warshafana and secondarily as a result of opposition to the Zintani brigades and General Haftar.[152]

When the head of GNA Fayez Sarraj arrived in Tripoli, Libya Dawn has been disbanded as the interests of the militias forming it conflicted when some of them choose to support GNA others chose to stay loyal to GNC.

Libya Shield

The Libya Shield Force supports the Islamists. Its forces are divided, geographically, into the Western Shield, Central Shield and Eastern Shield. Elements of the Libya Shield Force were identified by some observers as linked to Al-Qaeda as early as 2012.[123][124] The term "Libya Shield 1" is used to refer to the Islamist part of the Libya Shield Force in the east of Libya.[153]

In western Libya, the prominent Islamist forces are the Central Shield (of the Libya Shield Force), which consists especially of Misrata units, and the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room. Two smaller organizations operating in western Libya are Ignewa Al-Kikly and the "Lions of Monotheism".

Al-Qaeda leader Abd al-Muhsin Al-Libi, also known as Ibrahim Ali Abu Bakr or Ibrahim Tantoush[121] has been active in western Libya, capturing the special forces base called Camp 27 in April 2014 and losing it to anti-Islamist forces in August 2014.[120] The Islamist forces around Camp 27 have been described as both Al-Qaida[120] and as part of the Libya Shield Force.[122] The relationship between Al-Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is unclear, and their relationship with other Libyan Islamist groups is unclear. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are also active in Fezzan, especially in border areas.

Libya western and central Libya Shield force fought alongside Libya Dawn and were disbanded with it in 2015. While the eastern Libya Shield forces merged later with other Islamist militias and formed Revolutionary Shura Council to fight Hafter LNA.

Revolutionary Shura Councils

In Benghazi, the Islamist armed groups have organized themselves into the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries. These are:

The Shura Council of Benghazi has been strongly linked with ISIL as they fought together against Hafter in Battle of Benghazi. Yet, the Shura Council never pledged allegiance to ISIL.[145]

Meanwhile, in Derna the main Islamist coalition Shura Council of Mujahideen which was formed in 2014 is an al-Qaeda-affiliated group. The coalition has been in fight with ISIL in 2015 and drove them out from the city.[145]

Ajdabiya had its own Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, which is the most ISIL linked among the three Shura councils. Its leader Muhammad al-Zawi and a number of the council pledging allegiance to ISIL played a major role in strengthening the Islamist group grip on Sirte.[145]

Benghazi Defense Brigades

Benghazi Defense Brigades was formed in June 2016 to defend Benghazi and the Shura Council from the Libyan National Army, the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) included various Libya Dawn militias and was organized under the banner of the former Grand mufti Saddiq Al-Ghariyani.[154][155] Even thought it pledged to support the GNA[155] and apparently working under Mahdi Al-Barghathi, the Defence Minister of the GNA.[156] The GNA never recognized the BDB with some members calling for it to be demarcated as a "terrorist organization".[157]

Amazigh militias

Even though the Amazigh militias mainly situated in Zuwara and Nafusa Mountains fought alongside Libya Dawn, they consider themselves pushed towards that because Zintan brigades and the rest of their enemies has been sided with HoR.[158] Still though, the Amazigh main motivations for fighting against Haftar is his Pan-Arabic ideas which is conflicting with their demands of recognition their language in the constitution as an official language.

While keeping their enmity towards Haftar, the Amazigh militias mostly became neutral later in the war especially since the formation of GNA.

Operation Dignity

The anti-Islamist Operation Dignity forces are built around Haftar's faction of the Libyan National Army, including land, sea and air forces along with supporting local militias.


The Libyan National Army, formally known as "Libyan Arab Armed Forces", was gradually formed by General Khalifa Haftar as he fought in what he named Operation Dignity. On 19 May 2014, a number of Libyan military officers announced their support for Gen. Haftar, including officers in an air force base in Tobruk, and others who have occupied a significant portion of the country's oil infrastructure, as well as members of an important militia group in Benghazi. Haftar then managed to gather allies from Bayda, 125 miles east of Benghazi.[159] A minority portion of the Libya Shield Force had been reported to not have joined the Islamist forces, and it is not clear if this means they had joined the LNA forces.[160]

Since then Haftar continued to strengthen his LNA by recruiting new soldiers along with the advancements he made on the ground. In 2017 Haftar said that his forces are now larger by "hundred times" and now they are about 60 thousand soldiers.[161]

Salafist militias

Salafists, called Madkhalis by their enemies, fought alongside Haftar LNA since the beginning against the Islamist militias, especially Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries and ISIL whom they considered Khawarij after a fatwa from Saudi Rabee al-Madkhali.[162]

Zintan brigades

Since the Battle of Tripoli Airport, armed groups associated with Zintan and the surrounding Nafusa region have become prominent. The Airport Security Battalion is recruited in large part from Zintan. The "Zintan Brigades" fall under the leadership of the Zintan Revolutionaries' Military Council.

Wershefana militias

Wershefana tribal and mainly Gaddafi loyalists armed groups, from the area immediately south and west of Tripoli, have played a big[peacock term] role in Haftar forces west of Libya[clarification needed][further explanation needed] On 5 August 2014, Warshefana forces captured Camp 27, a training base west of Tripoli.[122] Wershefana armed groups have also been involved in a long-standing[peacock term] tribal conflict with the neighbouring Zawia city since 2011.[151] Zawia has allied with Libya Dawn since August 2014,[149] although its commitment to Libya Dawn is reportedly wavering.[150]

After being accused of kidnapping, ransoming and other crimes, a GNA joint force made up mostly from Zintan brigades defeated them[who?] and seized the Wershefana district.[163] Zintan brigades were former allies of Wershefana.

Effects of the war

Libyan oil fields, pipelines, refineries and storage

As of February 2015, damage and disorder from the war has been considerable.[164] There are frequent electric outages, little business activity, and a loss in revenues from oil by 90%.[164] Over 4,000 people have died from the fighting,[86] and some sources claim nearly a third of the country's population has fled to Tunisia as refugees.[164]

Since Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar had captured the ports of Libya's state-run oil company, the National Oil Corporation, in Es Sider and Ra's Lanuf, oil production has risen from 220,000 barrels a day to about 600,000 barrels per day.[165]

The war has prompted a considerable number of the country's sizeable foreign labour force to leave the country as extremist groups such as ISIL have targeted them; prior to the 2011, the Egyptian Ministry of Labour estimated that there were two million Egyptians working in the country yet since the escalation of attacks on Egyptian labourers the Egyptian Foreign Ministry estimates more than 800,000 Egyptians have left the country to return to Egypt.[166] Land mines remain a persistent threat in the country as numerous militias, especially ISIL, have made heavy use of land mines and other hidden explosives; the rapidly changing front lines has meant many of these devices remain in areas out of active combat zones; civilians remain the primary casualties inflicted by land mines with mines alone killing 145 people and wounding another 1,465 according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).[167][168]

In a report, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) revealed that it had registered over 45,600 refugees and asylum seekers in Libya during 2019.[169]

On October 22, 2019, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that children have been suffering from different sorts of malnutrition in the war-torn nations, including Libya.[170]

Executive Director of UNICEF said on January 18, 2020, that thousands of Libyan children were at risk of being killed due to the ongoing conflict in Libya. Since hostile clashes between the Libyan government and Haftar’s LNA forces (backed by the UAE and Egypt) have broken out in Tripoli and western Libya, conditions of children and civilians have worsened.[171]

The blockade on Libya’s major oil fields and production units by Haftar’s forces has sown losses of over $255 million within the six-day period ending January 23, according to the National Oil Corporation in Libya.[172] The NOC and ENI, which runs Mellitah Oil & Gas in Libya, have suffered a production loss of 155,000 oil barrels per day due to the blockade on production facilities imposed by Haftar’s LNA. The entities claim losing revenue of around $9.4mn per day.[173]

Since the beginning of Libyan conflict, thousands of refugees forced to live in detention centres are suffering from mental health problems, especially women and children, who are struggling to confront the deaths of their family members in the war.[174]

On February 7, 2020, the UNHCR reported that the overall number of migrants intercepted by the Libyan coast guard in, January, surged 121% against the same period in 2019. The ongoing war has turned the country into a huge haven for migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.[175]

Ethnic tensions

In 2014 a former Gaddafi officer reported to the New York Times that the civil war was now an "ethnic struggle" between Arab tribes (like the Zintanis) against those of Turkish ancestry (like the Misuratis), as well as against the Berbers and Circassians.[176]


May 2014–January 2015: Operation Dignity v Operation Libya Dawn

  • Hostilities first broke out early in the morning of Friday 16 May 2014 when Gen. Haftar's forces assaulted the bases of certain Benghazi Islamist militia groups, including the one blamed for the 2012 assassination of US ambassador Christopher Stevens. Haftar has vowed to not stop until the extremists groups are purged.[177][178] Shortly before the assault Haftar reportedly asked a close friend, "Am I committing suicide?"[179] The operation, codenamed "Operation Dignity" by Haftar.
  • On 17 May 2014, Haftar held a press conference in which he proclaimed that the current GNC was no longer representing the Libyan people and was illegitimate. He explained that his primary aim was to "purge" Islamist militants from Libya, specifically the "terrorist" Muslim Brotherhood.[180]
  • On 18 May 2014, Gen. Haftar's militia allies in Tripoli attacked parliament, sending lawmakers fleeing for their lives as gunmen ransacked the legislature, declaring the body suspended. A commander in the military police in Libya read a statement announcing the body's suspension on behalf of a group led by Haftar.[181]
  • On 19 May 2014, a group of 5 officers, who identified themselves as the Leaders of the Libyan Army, announced the suspension of the General National Congress. The officers, under the lead of the Zintani former head of Military Intelligence, Col. Muktar Fernana, instead announced that the Constitutional Committee would carry out the work of the GNC. Under the plan al-Thinni's government was to remain in office, and would oversee the formation of military and security forces.
  • On 13 July 2014, a coalition of military entities and militias, including the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) and some brigades from the Misrata Union of Revolutionaries, such as Hatten, Mercer, and Haraka,[182] launched an offensive codenamed "Operation Dawn" on Tripoli International Airport,[183] thus beginning the Battle of Tripoli Airport. They were later joined by other militias from Misrata, Tripoli, and Zawiya, as well as by Islamist militias, the Knights of Janzour, Amazigh units, and some militias associated with cities of the Jebel Nafusa.[184]
  • On 23 August 2014, after more than a month of fighting, Tripoli International Airport finally fell to fighters from Libyan Central Shield, a coalition of Islamist and Misrata forces.[185][186] The following day, Operation Dawn forces announced that they have consolidated the whole city and adjacent towns after driving out rival Zintan militias 90 kilometers south of the capital.[187]
  • Islamist armed groups extended their control over central Tripoli. While the newly elected House of Representatives parliament set up operations in Tobruk. A rival General National Congress parliament continued to operate in Tripoli.[187][188]
  • Military confrontation between factions in western Libya, particularly since the beginning of October 2014, has increasingly been waged between groups supportive of the Zintani brigades and opponents of those forces. The spread of combat zones beyond Tripoli as well as the intensification of fighting in the Nafusa Mountains has accelerated this trend.[189][190] Heavy fighting commenced in the city of Kikla and the surrounding vicinity on 11 October 2014 when Zintani brigades initiated an offensive to gain control over various towns and routes in the Nafusa Mountains.[191] Clashes between Tuareg and Tebu tribal militias have also been repeatedly flared in Ubari at various times during October.[192]
  • On 13 December 2014, after amassing strength in Sirte, Misratan forces launched an offensive called "Operation Sunrise" against the Petroleum Facilities Guard, led by Ibrahim Jathran, and other pro-Tobruk forces for control of Ras Lanuf and the Sidra oil terminal.[193] Several days of clashes over the oil facilities have ensued, including the deployment of airstrikes in the struggle.[194] Most of the air assaults have been conducted by forces allied with the Tobruk-based government, however, Libya Dawn forces allegedly carried out an airstrike on 16 December 2014 in the al-Hilal region. This attack reportedly caused no casualties or infrastructure damage.[194]
  • On 16 January 2015, the Operation Dignity and Libya Dawn factions declared a ceasefire and agreed to form a unity government and further political talks bringing the fights especially in western Libya to a halt.

January–November 2015: ISIL rising

  • On 27 January 2015, gunmen attacked the Corinthia Hotel, a location frequently used by Libyan officials and foreign diplomats, in Tripoli.[195][196] After detonating a car bomb in the parking lot, the assailants stormed the building and opened fire, killing at least 10 individuals, including an American security contractor, before being killed by security forces.[195][196] Libyan security forces have since reclaimed control over the hotel building. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack.[195][196]
  • On 4 February 2015, gunmen believed to be linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant stormed and seized control of the Al-Mabrook oilfield south of the city of Sirte. A Libyan security source said 12 employees, including 4 foreigners, were believed to have been killed in the raid.[197]
  • On 9 February 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took over the town of Nofaliya in Sirte District, after a convoy of 40 heavily armed vehicles arrived from Sirte and ordered Nofaliya's residents to "repent" and pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The fighters appointed Ali Al-Qarqaa as emir of the town.[198][199]
  • On 13 February 2015, gunmen affiliated with the IS seized government buildings and radio and television stations in Sirte.[200][201] These force reportedly issued an ultimatum demanding other military entities evacuate the city by the dawn of Sunday (15 February).[202] In response, the unrecognized rump GNC of the Tripoli-based government announced a decision to form a joint force to reclaim facilities in Sirte from IS militants. However this joint force never did attempt to recapture the city from IS, this comes as a result of Misrata militias withdrawing from Sirte when ISIL attacked their posts.[203]
  • On 15 February 2015, ISIL in Libya released a video depicting the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt. Within hours, the Egyptian Air Force responded with airstrikes against IS training locations and weapons stockpiles in Derna in retaliation for the killings, killing around 50 militants and 7 civilians.[204][205] Warplanes acting under orders from the Tobruk-based government also struck targets in Derna, reportedly in coordination with Egypt, whereas the Tripoli-based government condemned the airstrikes, calling them "terrorism" and "a violation of sovereignty in Libya".[205][206]
  • On 19 February 2015, Qatar recalled its ambassador from Cairo in protest against Egypt's unilateral military action, saying it could harm innocent civilians and advantage one side in Libya's conflict.[207]
  • On 20 February 2015, IS operatives detonated 3 bombs in Al Qubbah, targeting a petrol station, a police station, and the home of parliamentary speaker Agila Salah, allegedly in retaliation to recent Egyptian airstrikes.[208] These attacks reportedly killed at least 40 people.[208] The U.S. State Department,[209] the Misrata Municipality,[210] and Libya Dawn[211] condemned the attacks.
  • On 14 March 2015, pro-Dawn forces associated with Misrata and Operation Sunrise clashed with IS militants in Sirte, which marked the start of Battle of Sirte (2015).[212][213] Fighting between Libya Dawn forces and ISIL militants was also reported in the Daheera area west of the city of Sirte, and at the Harawa vicinity east of Sirte.[214]
  • On 29 May 2015, Islamic State fighters captured the Qurdabiya air base south of Sirte after Tripoli aligned troops withdrew from the area.[215]
  • On 13 August 2015, 38 residents from the town of Sirte were killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, after residents revolted against them in reaction to the killing of a Salafist imam who refused to hand over his mosque to the militant extreme group. Among the dead were two children, four elderly people, and the rest were fighters from the local tribe of Furjan. ISIL threatened to use gas against the civilians unless attacks against it stopped.[216]

December 2015–April 2016: Signing of the Libyan Political Agreement

  • On 16 and 17 December 2015, efforts to establish peace between the rival governments were made, when the leaders of both governments met in Malta and delegates signed an agreement in Morocco.
  • On 17 December 2015, members of the House of Representatives and the new General National Congress signed the revised political agreement, generally known as the "Libyan Political Agreement" or the "Skhirat Agreement".[217][218]
  • Under the terms of the agreement, a 9-member Presidency Council and a 17-member interim Government of National Accord were formed, with a view to holding new elections within two years.[217] The House of Representatives was supposed to continue to exist as a legislature and an advisory body, to be known as the High Council of State, was supposed be formed with members nominated by the New General National Congress.[219]
  • On 4 January 2016 ISIL took over Bin Jawad during its oil crescent region campaign. On Monday morning, the terrorist group imposed full control over the city of Bin Jawad in the Sirte District, after a series of intense firefights with rebel forces that were loyal to the Libyan provisional government in Tripoli.[220]
  • On 7 January 2016, a truck bomb attack targeted a police training center in the coastal city of Zliten, killing at least 47 and wounding scores of people.[221] The incident was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Libyan history.[222] Difficulties in treating the huge number of wounded at facilities in Zliten resulted in many patients being transferred to hospitals in Tripoli, Misrata, and Khoms.[223] Another car bomb attack occurred on the same day at the entrance to the oil port of Ras Lanuf, killing multiple people.[224] The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the massacres at Zliten and Ras Lanuf.[225]
  • On 23 February 2016, ISIL militants clashed with forces associated with the Sabratha military council inside of Sabratha.[226] These clashes were followed on the same day by an ISIL offensive that allegedly temporarily seized various buildings after penetrating the city. However, local forces conducted a counterattack against the ISIL militants, reportedly driving them out of the city.[227] However, fighting continued in Zawagha district.[228]
  • On 12 March 2016, the Presidential Council of the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord issued a statement urging all Libyan institutions to begin a transfer of authority to the unity government.[229] It also called upon the international community to cease all dealings with alternative governments.[230] In the statement, the Presidential Council asserted that a document signed by a majority of the HOR's members expressing support for the new government, in addition to the endorsement by other political figures, conferred legitimacy on the Government of National Accord.
  • On 16 March 2016, the European Union agreed to implement sanctions, travel bans, and asset freezes, on Nouri Abusahmain, the president of the Tripoli-based new GNC, Khalifa al-Ghwell, the new GNC's prime minister, and Aguila Saleh, the president of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives[231] citing these 3 political leaders as being "spoilers" obstructing implementation of the U.N-backed plan of resolution to the Libya conflict and the associated Government of National Accord.
  • On 17 March 2016, during an interview, Fayez al-Sarraj, the Prime Minister of the U.N/internationally supported Government of National Accord, declared that his government would move into Tripoli "within in a few days."[232] Seraj also stated, in the same interview, that his government's security plan included agreements with police, military forces, and some armed groups in Tripoli that would enable the Government of National Accord to ensconce itself in the capital.
  • On 24 March 2016, the Tripoli-based new GNC declared a state of emergency in response to reports that 4 members of the Government of National Accord had entered Tripoli.[233] Despite GNC government attempts to block GNA move, on 30 March 2016, various members of the Presidential Council, including Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, arrived at a naval base in a Tripoli after travelling from Tunisia on a boat.[234]
  • On 31 March 2016, it was reported that top officials from the GNC, under heavy pressure and warnings from former supporters, had dispersed back to their home cities.[235] GNC Prime Minister Khalifa Ghwell, Sheik Sadeq al-Ghariani, GNC President Abu Sahmain, GNC Media Department head Jamal Zubia, and militia commander Salah Badi were reported as having left Tripoli.[235]
  • At the end of March, the mayors of Sabratha, Zultan, Rigdaleen, Al-Jmail, Zuwarah, Ajilat, Sorman, Zawia, as well as those of West and South Zawia, issued a joint statement endorsing the Government of National Accord.[236] And on 2 April 2016, the National Oil Corporation stated that it would work with the Presidential Council.[237]
  • On 5 April 2016, the National Salvation Government associated with the General National Congress announced that it was resigning, "ceasing operations," and ceding power to the Presidential Council.[238][239] Following the dissolution of the GNC, former members of that body declared the establishment of the State Council, as envisaged by the LPA.[240]
  • On 28 April 2016, Prime Minister Faiez Serraj issued a pre recorded television address during which he stated that he had tasked his government's Defense Minister, Mahdi Barghathi, with assembling a joint command and a joint operations room for the recapture of Sirte from ISIL.[241] Serraj declared that the forces for the operation would be drawn up of military units from across the country.[242]
  • On 5 May 2016, ISIL militants staged a preemptive offensive against GNA-allied forces in Abu Grein and other areas in central Libya.[243] The attacks involved use of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), as well as the capture of a number of towns and villages. The initial ISIL assault was followed in the subsequent days by the organization's use of additional VBIED attacks.[244]

April 2016–December 2016: Decline of ISIL

  • On 12 May 2016, the offensive on Sirte was launched[245] under the name of "Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos," variously translated as "Impenetrable Wall" or "Solid Foundation."[246] Fighting took place east of Assdada, around 80 km (50 miles) south of Misrata.[247]
  • On 16 May 2016, military forces associated with the Government of National Accord's central region Joint Operations Room claimed to have recaptured Abu Grein from IS militants.[248] This report followed days of intermittent clashes and air strikes.
  • On 17 May 2016, the military forces of the Government of National Accord declared their control over the al-Wishkah district, 25 km from Abu Grein.[249] The GNA's Joint Operations Room stated that their casualties had been six soldiers killed and seventeen injured in ongoing clashes with ISIL forces, eventually reaching nearly 50 kilometres from Sirte.[246]
  • In late May, the next stage of the Battle of Sirte (2016) began, pro-GNA military forces seized many locations near the city of Sirte from ISIL. Operation Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos forces reported the capture of the Sirte power station and also its advance on the town of Jarif to the south of Sirte.[250][251] Also in late May, the eastern front of Sirte saw action. The Petroleum Facilities Guard reported the capture of Bin Jawad and Noufiliyah from ISIL.[105]
  • On 1 August 2016, the United States air forces started its air strikes (coordinated with the unity government in Tripoli) against ISIL positions in Sirte.[252]
  • On 22 August 2016, the House of Representatives rejected the GNA's government with most members of the parliament voting against the government in a motion of no confidence.[253][254][255]
  • On 6 December 2016, Sirte was declared to be cleared of ISIL loyalists after over 6 months of fighting, depriving the group of their remaining urban stronghold in Libya.

2017–2018: LNA captures Benghazi and Derna

  • On 2 May 2017, General Khalifa Haftar met with Prime Minister Sarraj in Abu Dhabi, where they had a two-hour meeting, which was described as having made progress.[256] During a press conference in Algiers, foreign minister Mohamed Taha Siala stated that the GNA would recognize Haftar as the supreme commander of the Libyan army if he recognized the GNA instead of the House of Representatives. This statement caused criticism in Tripoli.[257][258]
  • In July 2017, the Libyan National Army defeated the remaining Islamist forces, ending the nearly three year long Battle of Benghazi.[99]
  • On 17 December 2017, Haftar declared the Skhirat agreement[clarification needed] void.[259]
  • On 11 April 2018, while Operation Dignity forces started preparing for the assault on besieged Derna, Haftar suffered a severe brain stroke and was taken to a hospital in Paris.[260][261]
  • On 26 April 2018, after nearly three weeks of absence, Khalifa Haftar finally returned to Benghazi after his medical trip to Paris.[262]
  • On 2 May 2018, two ISIL fighters attacked the High National Election Commission headquarters in Tripoli before bombing themselves after being surrounded by police resulting in at least 12 deaths.[263]
  • On 7 May 2018, the Battle of Derna began. After 7 weeks and 3 days of fighting, the city fell to the LNA on 28 June 2018.
  • In September 2018, new clashes occurred between pro-GNA and pro-Haftar forces.[264][265]
  • On 11 September 2018, ISIL carried out an attack in Tripoli against the National Oil Corporation.
  • In November 2018, major Libyan political figures attended the two-day Palermo Conference in an attempt to resolve the ongoing conflict, but no breakthrough was achieved.[266]
  • On 19 December 2018, the LNA engaged in the Battle of Saddada Castle after several advances into Misrata District earlier in December.[267]

2019: LNA advances on Tripoli

  • On 16 January 2019, the LNA moved its forces to the south in a bid to secure oil fields.[268] Near the end of the month, Haftar successfully entered the western city of Sabha.[269]
  • On 29 January 2019, it was announced that Haftar's forces successfully captured Sabha.[270][269]
  • On 6 February 2019, it was announced that Haftar had the county's major El Sharara oil field.[271][272]
  • On 21 February 2019, The LNA would capture the El Feel oil field.[273]
  • On 3 April 2019,[274] Haftar successfully completed in his bid to capture Libya's oil fields.[274][275]
  • On 4 April 2019, Haftar announced that he had ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli. GNA backed forces immediately began to mobilize to defend the city. The threat of serious conflict prompted the postponement of the Libyan National Conference originally planned to take place in Ghadames on 14–16 April 2019.[276]
  • On 15 April 2019, Stephane Dujarric, a United Nations spokesman quoted in New York from a report of International Organization for Migration that during recent clashes between rival Libyan groups around Tripoli, more than 18,000 people have been displaced.[277]
  • On 18 April 2019, the World Health Organization announced the number of killed so far in Tripoli in Libyan internal conflict has reached 205 and the wounded 913.[278]
  • On 22 April 2019, several airstrikes and explosion hit Tripoli resulting in suspension of air operations in capital.[279]
  • In mid-April 2019, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Virginia Gamba, the United Nations' Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a joint statement to show their worries about children caught in the middle of fighting in Libya.[280]
  • In May 2019, the United Arab Emirates' military led by its Deputy Supreme Commander and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, claimed that 'extremist militias' had been in control of the Libyan capital, which Khalifa Hafter has been warring to take control of from the forces loyal to the nation's internationally recognized government. Since the offensive began in Libya almost 376 people have lost their lives.[281]
  • On 21 September 2019, the Government of National Accord (GNA) announced that a residential area in Tripoli became a target to drones from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The attack in al-Hadaba area caused severe injuries to several members of a family.[282]
  • On 1 October 2019, Khalifa Haftar's forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), launched artillery shells on Mitiga Airport in Tripoli, according to sources from Burkan Al-Ghadab Operation (Volcano of Rage Operation) of the Libyan Army under the GNA command.[283]
  • On 6 October 2019, airstrikes on Misrata Airport by the foreign warplanes, backed by the LNA, inured one member of staff and damaged two airplanes, said media office of Volcano of Rage Operation.[284]
  • On 6 October 2019, air-raids by Khalifa Haftar's warplanes targeted the Equestrian School in Janzour, west of Tripoli. The attack wounded at least three children and one old man, along with killing a couple of horses.[285]
  • On 7 October 2019, the Government of National Accord (GNA) claimed that UAE's drones carried out attacks in Gharyan on south of capital Tripoli. Forces loyal to Haftar had also launched an offensive on the city in August 2019 to take control from the GNA.[286]
  • On 15 October 2019, both UNICEF and European Union expressed "sadness and shock" at the killing of children and their mother during the airstrike by Haftar's forces on Al-Furnaj area in Tripoli.[287][288]
  • On 19 October 2019, Mohammed Gununu, spokesperson for the Libyan Army under the command of GNA, claimed that a Wing Loong drone, supplied by the UAE to Haftar's forces, was shot down in Misurata.[289]
  • On 14 November 2019, Khalifa Haftar visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet Abu Dhabi’s top officials, including Aguila Saleh Issa and Aref Ali Nayed. The meeting aimed at reaching a common ground between Haftar, Aguila Saleh and Aref Ali Nayed to replace the current Interim Government of Abdullah al-Thani in eastern Libya with a new government.[290]
  • On 18 November 2019, the Government of National Accord (GNA) alleged that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carried out an airstrike that killed seven people in Tripoli. An Emirati drone targeted a biscuits factory in Wadi Rabie area, and killed two Libyan and five foreign workers. Besides, 15 other workers were wounded.[291]

2020: LNA advances and Turkish intervention

Situation in Tripoli as of 12 January 2020
  • On 6 January 2020, LNA forces captured the port city of Sirte from GNA forces, according to the LNA. A GNA commander acknowledged the loss.[292][293] Sirte’s control was seized following clashes with Sirte Protection and Security Force units, which withdrew after being forsaken by Madkhali force-Brigade 604, formed after ISIL was ousted from the city in 2016. LNA forces had launched attacks on Sirte using the UAE drones, which killed several members of the SPSR units.[294]
  • On January 16, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that they began to send troops to Libya in support of Fayez al-Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA). Turkey’s increasing support came days before a summit in Berlin, which was organized to address the Libyan conflict.[295]
  • On January 17, UNHCR claimed that migrants, held in Libyan detention camps, were being recruited to fight on both sides of the civil war. According to the testimonies, some migrant were given an option to stay in the camp infinitely, or take part in the fighting.[296]
  • On February 24, the GNA highlighted that the United Arab Emirates dispatched some 6,200 tons of weapons via 100 flights since January 12, in support of Khalifa Haftar. They took off from Sweihan Air Base in the UAE and Assab airbase in Eritrea.[297]
  • On March 25, fighting escalated following increased bombardment of Tripoli. Residents said it was the worst bombardment in weeks. The UN had specifically condemned the March 24 shelling that hit a prison in GNA territory, as well as the previous week's LNA shelling that had killed four young women, two of them girls.[298]

Peace efforts

During the first half of 2015, the United Nations facilitated a series of negotiations seeking to bring together the rival governments and warring militias of Libya.[299] A meeting between the rival governments was held at Auberge de Castille in Valletta, Malta on 16 December 2015. On 17 December, delegates from the two governments signed a peace deal backed by the UN in Skhirat, Morocco, although there was opposition to this within both factions.[1][2] The Government of National Accord was formed as a result of this agreement, and its first meeting took place in Tunis on 2 January 2016.[300] On 17 December 2017, general Khalifa Haftar declared the Skhirat agreement void.[259]

A meeting called the Libyan National Conference was planned in Ghadames for organising elections and a peace process in Libya.[301] The conference was prepared over 18 months during 2018 and 2019 and was planned to take place 14–16 April 2019.[302] It was postponed in early April 2019 as a result of the military actions of the 2019 Western Libya offensive.[303]

The Libya Summit in Berlin, Germany on 19 January 2020

In July 2019, Ghassan Salamé, the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), proposed a three-point peace plan (a truce during Eid al-Adha, an international meeting of countries implicated in the conflict, and an internal Libyan conference similar to the Libyan National Conference).[304]

In September 2019, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) discussed the need for the PSC to play a greater role in concluding the Libyan crisis, putting forward a proposal to appoint a joint AU-UN envoy to Libya.[305]

Turkish President RT Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin made a joint call for ceasefire, starting January 12, 2020, to end the proxy war in Libya.[306] The ceasefire is said to have been broken hours after its initiation. Both the warring parties – GNA supported by Turkey and LNA backed by Saudi, UAE, Egypt and Jordan – blamed each other for the violence that broke out in Tripoli.[307] Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by foreign powers including the UAE, does not want peace and is seeking a military solution to the drawn-out war in the country.[308]

Haftar's forces launched attacks on Abu Gurain province, near the port city of Misurata, Libya’s UN-recognized government claimed. The attacks were seen as a violation of cease-fire accord signed at the Berlin Conference.[309] On February 12, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution demanding a “lasting cease-fire” in Libya. Drafted by Britain, it received 14 votes, while Russia abstained.[310] Around February 19, the government withdrew from peace talks following rocket attacks on Tripoli.[311]

At the urging of the UN, both sides agreed to a new ceasefire in late March due to the novel coronavirus; however, the ceasefire quickly fell apart. On 24 March shells hit a prison in an area held by the GNA, drawing UN condemnation. The GNA launched a series of "counter-attacks" early on 25 March, in response to what the GNA called "the heaviest bombardments Tripoli has seen".[298]

Domestic reactions

Khalifa Haftar and his supporters describe Operation Dignity as a "correction to the path of the revolution" and a "war on terrorism".[312][313][314] The elected parliament has declared that Haftar's enemies are "terrorists".[147] Opponents of Haftar and the coup d'état government in Tripoli claim he is attempting a coup. Omar al-Hasi, the internationally unrecognized Prime Minister of the Libya Dawn-backed Tripoli government, speaking of his allies' actions, has stated that: "This is a correction of the revolution." He has also contended: "Our revolution had fallen into a trap."[315] Dawn commanders claim to be fighting for a "revolutionary" cause rather than for religious or partisan objectives.[316] Islamist militia group Ansar al-Sharia (linked to the 2012 Benghazi attack) has denounced Haftar's campaign as a Western-backed "war on Islam"[317] and has declared the establishment of the "Islamic Emirate of Benghazi".

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) denounced calls to blockade oil fields prior to the Berlin Conference on January 19, 2020, calling it a criminal act. The entity warned to prosecute offenders to the highest degree under Libyan and international law.[318]

Dignitaries from Tripoli, Sahel and Mountain regions in Libya expressed discomposure at the briefing by the UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame at the Security Council, for equalizing the aggressors (Haftar's forces backed by UAE and Egpyt) and the defender (GNA forces). They said Salame’s statements made both the parties equal amid Haftar's offensive in Tripoli and the war crimes committed against civilians, including children.[319]

Foreign reactions, involvement, and evacuations

Neighboring countries


Early in May 2014, the Algerian military said it was engaged in an operation aimed at tracking down militants who infiltrated the country's territory in Tamanrasset near the Libyan border, during which it announced that it managed to kill 10 "terrorists" and seized a large cache of weapons near the town of Janet consisting of automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition boxes.[320] The Times reported on 30 May that Algerian forces were strongly present in Libya and it was claimed shortly after by an Algerian journalist from El Watan that a full regiment of 3,500 paratroopers logistically supported by 1,500 other men crossed into Libya and occupied a zone in the west of the country. They were later shown to be operating alongside French special forces in the region. However, all of these claims were later denied by the Algerian government through Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal who told the senate that "Algeria has always shown its willingness to assist [our] sister countries, but things are clear: the Algerian army will not undertake any operation outside Algerian territory".[321]

On 16 May 2014, the Algerian government responded to a threat on its embassy in Libya by sending a team of special forces to Tripoli to escort its diplomatic staff in a military plane out of the country. "Due to a real and imminent threat targeting our diplomats the decision was taken in coordination with Libyan authorities to urgently close our embassy and consulate general temporarily in Tripoli," the Algerian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.[322] Three days later, the Algerian government shut down all of its border crossings with Libya and the army command raised its security alert status by tightening its presence along the border, especially on the Tinalkoum and Debdab border crossings. This also came as the state-owned energy firm, Sonatrach, evacuated all of its workers from Libya and halted production in the country.[323] In mid-August, Algeria opened its border for Egyptian refugees stranded in Libya and said it would grant them exceptional visas to facilitate their return to Egypt.[324]


Egyptian authorities have long expressed concern over the instability in eastern Libya spilling over into Egypt due to the rise of jihadist movements in the region, which the government believes to have developed into a safe transit for wanted Islamists following the 2013 coup d'état in Egypt that ousted Muslim Brotherhood-backed president Mohamed Morsi. There have been numerous attacks on Egypt's trade interests in Libya which were rampant prior to Haftar's offensive, especially with the kidnapping of truck drivers and sometimes workers were murdered.[325] Due to this, the military-backed government in Egypt had many reasons to support Haftar's rebellion and the Islamist February 17th Martyrs Brigade operating in Libya has accused the Egyptian government of supplying Haftar with weapons and ammunition, a claim denied by both Cairo and the rebel leader.[326] Furthermore, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has become increasingly popular among many Libyans wishing for stability,[327] has called on the United States to intervene militarily in Libya during his presidential candidacy, warning that Libya was becoming a major security challenge and vowed not to allow the turmoil there to threaten Egypt's national security.[328]

On 21 July 2014, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry urged its nationals residing in Libya to adopt measures of extreme caution as it was preparing to send consular staff in order to facilitate their return their country following an attack in Egypt's western desert region near the border with Libya that left 22 Egyptian border guards killed.[329] A week later, the ministry announced that it would double its diplomatic officials on the Libyan-Tunisian border and reiterated its call on Egyptian nationals to find shelter in safer places in Libya.[330] On 3 August, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia agreed to cooperate by establishing an airbridge between Cairo and Tunis that would facilitate the transfer of 2,000 to 2,500 Egyptians from Libya daily.[331]

On 31 July 2014, two Egyptians were shot dead during a clash at the Libyan-Tunisian border where hundreds of Egyptians were staging a protest at the Ras Jdeir border crossing. As they tried to cross into Tunisia, Libyan authorities opened fire to disperse them.[332] A similar incident occurred once again on 15 August, when Libyan security forces shot dead an Egyptian who attempted to force his way through the border along with hundreds of stranded Egyptians and almost 1,200 Egyptians made it into Tunisia that day.[324] This came a few days after Egypt's Minister of Civil Aviation, Hossam Kamal, announced that the emergency airlift consisting of 46 flights aimed at evacuating the country's nationals from Libya came to a conclusion, adding that 11,500 Egyptians in total had returned from the war-torn country as of 9 August.[333] A week later, all Egyptians on the Libyan-Tunisian border were evacuated and the consulate's staff, who were reassigned to work at the border area, withdrew from Libya following the operation's success.[334] Meanwhile, an estimated 50,000 Egyptians (4,000 per day) arrived at the Salloum border crossing on the Libyan-Egyptian border as of early August.[335]


Along with most of the international community, Malta continues to recognize the Government of National Accord as the legitimate government of Libya.[336] I Eastern Libyan government chargé d'affaires Hussin Musrati insisted that by doing so, Malta was "interfering in Libyan affairs".[337] Due to the conflict, there are currently two Libyan embassies in Malta. The General National Congress now controls the official Libyan Embassy in Balzan, while the Tobruk-based Eastern Libyan House of Representatives has opened a consulate in Ta' Xbiex. Each of the two embassies say that visas issued by the other entity are not valid.[338]

Following the expansion of ISIL in Libya, particularly the fall of Nawfaliya, the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil called for the United Nations and European Union to intervene in Libya to prevent the country from becoming a failed state.[339][340]


Post-revolutionary Tunisia also had its share of instability due to the violence in Libya as it witnessed an unprecedented rise in radical Islamism with increased militant activity and weapons' smuggling through the border.[341]

In response to the initial clashes in May, the Tunisian National Council for Security held an emergency meeting and decided to deploy 5,000 soldiers to the Libyan–Tunisian border in anticipation of potential consequences from the fighting.[342] On 30 July 2014, Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi said that the country cannot cope with the high number of refugees coming from Libya due to the renewed fighting. "Our country's economic situation is precarious, and we cannot cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees," Hamdi said in a statement. He also added that Tunisia will close its borders if necessary.[343]

Tunisian Foreign Minister, Khemaies Jhinaoui, revived Tunisia's stance to stop the fighting in Libya and follow the UN-led political suit. He stressed on rejection of military solutions to the war.[344]

In January 2020, Tunisia said its gearing up to accommodate a new inflow of migrants escaping the war in Libya. The country has chosen the site of Fatnassia to receive Libyan refugees.[345]


  •  United Nations – On 27 August 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously approved resolution 2174 (2014), which called for an immediate ceasefire and an inclusive political dialogue.[346] The resolution also threatened to impose sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans, against the leaders and supporters of the various militias involved in the fighting, if the individuals threaten either the security of Libya or the political process.[347] The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, expressed his fears of a "full civil war" in Libya, unless the international community finds a political solution for the country's conflict.[348] In 2019 the United Nations reported that Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have systematically violated the Libyan arms embargo.[349] In February 2020, Libya's Ambassador to the UN, Taher Al-Sunni, emphasized on documenting  attacks against civilians, medical personnel and field hospitals in Libya, during his meeting with the Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross.[350]
  •  France – On 30 July 2014, the French government temporarily closed its embassy in Tripoli, while 40 French, including the ambassador, and 7 British nationals were evacuated on a French warship bound to the port of Toulon in southern France. "We have taken all necessary measures to allow those French nationals who so wish to leave the country temporarily," the foreign ministry said in a statement.[351][352] In 2016, a helicopter carrying three French special forces soldiers was shot down south of Benghazi during what President François Hollande called "dangerous intelligence operations."[353][354] In December 2019, French government canceled the delivery of boats to Libya following a lawsuit filled by NGOs opposing the move. The NGOs cited French donation as a violation of European embargo on Libya for providing military equipment and arms to countries involved in war crimes.[355]
  •  IndiaMinistry of External Affairs spokesman, Syed Akbaruddin, said that India's diplomatic mission in Libya has been in touch with the 4,500 Indian nationals, through several co-ordinators. "The mission is facilitating return of Indian nationals and working with the Libyan authorities to obtain necessary exit permissions for Indian nationals wanting to return," he said.[356]
  •  Italy – The Italian embassy has remained open during the civil war[357] and the government has always pushed for the success of UN-hosted talks among Libya's political parties in Geneva. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said "If there's no success, Italy is ready to play a leading role, above all a diplomatic role, and then, always under the aegis of the UN, one of peacekeeping inside Libya", adding that "Libya can't be left in the condition it is now."[358] In 2015, four Italian workers were kidnapped by Islamic State militants near Sabratha. Two of them were killed in a raid by security forces the following year while the other two were rescued.[359] Between February 2015 and December 2016, however, Italy was forced to close its embassy and every Italian citizen in Libya was advised to leave. The embassy reopened on 9 January 2017.
  •  Russia – In February 2015, discussions on supporting the Libyan parliament by supplying them with weapons reportedly took place in Cairo when President of Russia Vladimir Putin arrived for talks with the government of Egypt, during which the Russian delegates also spoke with a Libyan delegation. Colonel Ahmed al-Mismari, the spokesperson for the Libyan Army's chief of staff, also stated that "Arming the Libyan army was a point of discussion between the Egyptian and Russian presidents in Cairo."[360] The deputy foreign minister of Russia, Mikhail Bogdanov, has stated that Russia will supply the government of Libya with weapons if UN sanctions against Libya are lifted.[361] In April 2015, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani visited Moscow and announced that Russia and Libya will strengthen their relations, especially economic relations.[362] He also met with Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and said that he request Russia's assistance in fixing the country's government institutions and military strength.[363] The prime minister also met with Nikolai Patrushev, the Russian president's security adviser, and talked about the need to restore stability in Libya as well as the influence of terrorist groups in the country. Patrushev stated that a "priority for regional politics is the protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya."[364] A private army of 100 mercenaries from the Wagner group, backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has begun offensive on the forward base in Libya.[365] On October 2, 2019, at least 35 Russian mercenaries were killed in Libya while fighting for Khalifa Haftar's forces.[366] According to the reports, senior commander in Russian Wagner Group, Alexander Kuznetsov was injured while fighting alongside Haftar's militias in south of Tripoli.[367] In a joint press conference with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed the involvement of Russian mercenaries in Tripoli’s ongoing conflict. He also said they are not affiliated to Moscow and are not funded by the government. These fighters were transferred to Libya from the de-esclation zone in Syria's Idlib.[368] French daily, Le Monde reported that Saudi Arabia was funding the operations of Russian Wagner mercenaries deployed to support Khalifa Haftar in Libya. It also claimed that over 2000 Russian mercenaries were involved in carrying out attacks on Tripoli in late 2019.[369]
  •  Thailand – In late July 2014, the Thai government asked Libya's authorities to facilitate the evacuation of its nationals by exempting the need for exit visas.[370] As of 14 August, over 800 Thai workers have been successfully evacuated from the country,[371] while Thailand's Ministry of Labour announced that it would prepare jobs for more than 2,800 workers residing in Libya.[372]
  •  Turkey – Turkey has been among one of the most vocal critics of the civil war, mostly aimed against the Eastern Government led by Khalifa Haftar. Turkey was found to have transported arms, ammunitions and aids to the Western Government led by Fayez al-Sarraj against Haftar's force.[373][374] The Libyan National Army accused the Turkish authorities of supporting terrorist groups in Libya for many years, adding that the Turkish support has evolved from just logistic support to a direct interference using military aircraft to transport mercenaries, as well as ships carrying weapons, armored vehicles and ammunition to support terrorism in Libya.[375] In July 2019, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, threatened to declare war on Khalifa Haftar after receiving news of six Turkish citizens arrested by Haftar's force.[376] On 27 December 2019 Bloomberg reported that Turkey intended to deploy its navy to protect Tripoli and send troops to help train GNA forces. Additionally Turkmen rebel groups fighting in northern Syria were expected to transfer to Tripoli.[377] The Speaker of the Turkish Parliament subsequently announced Turkey’s plans to send troops to help Libya's Presidential Council's government, especially after the efforts of Haftar's backers, including UAE, to pressurize Fayez Al-Sarraj to recede the request for Turkey’s support.[378] On 2 January 2020, the Turkish Grand National Assembly voted 325–184 to send troops to help the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord in Libya.[379]
  •  United Kingdom – Following France's evacuation of some British nationals, the UK's embassy in Tripoli was the only diplomatic mission still open in the war-torn city. However, British diplomats residing there have sought refuge in a fortified compound south-west of the city to avoid the repetitive rocket attacks by warring militias.[380] Three days earlier, a convoy carrying British diplomats from Tripoli to Tunisia came under fire when their vehicles refused to stop at an unofficial checkpoint in the outskirts of the city.[381] On 2 August, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office finally announced that it would temporarily close its embassy in the capital and evacuate its staff. Ambassador Michael Aron said that the embassy would continue to operate from Tunisia.[382] The following day, the Royal Navy ship HMS Enterprise managed to evacuate more than a hundred foreign nationals from the country to Malta, most of whom were British, in an operation off the coast of Tripoli.[383] In March 2016, Ambassador Peter Millett called for "a much more coordinated approach between the different groups, regions and forces and the armed groups in Libya" in order to defeat ISIL in Libya.[384] Head of British Embassy in Libya, Nicholas Hopton said that Britain is drafting a resolution in the Security Council in order to genuinely end the Libyan crisis. The draft resolution urges the U.N. and the international community to effectively achieve a ceasefire with the help of a monitoring mission and other sources, the HCS Information Office said.[385]
  •  United Arab Emirates – In June 2019 the GNA discovered a cache of US-made Javelin anti-tank missiles in a captured LNA base in the mountains south of Tripoli. Markings on the missiles’ shipping containers indicate that they were originally sold to Oman and the United Arab Emirates in 2008. Emirati forces, who previously conducted airstrikes on Islamist targets in Libya, were suspected of backing General Khalifa Haftar. The United States State Department and Defense Department stated they have opened investigations into how the weapons ended up on the Libyan battlefield.[386][387] The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement denying ownership of weapons found in Libya and stated that it supported United Nations-led efforts to broker a political solution to the conflict.[388] France later released a statement that the missiles found in the base belonged to France, and that they were damaged and out of use.[389] Nevertheless, the UAE has been identified as a strong supporter of Khalifa Haftar and the LNA, which saw the Libyan general and his forces as the best bulwark to contain and combat various Islamist groups in the war torn country; the UN reported that the UAE supplied Haftar's forces with aircraft, over 100 armoured vehicles and over US$200 million in aid.[390] A covert deal between Khalifa Haftar and figures from the Muammar Gaddafi-era, Revolutionary Committees, was signed in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Both the parties agreed to share power in Libya, enabling Gaddafi’s loyalists to retrieve power in return for supporting Haftar in the ongoing fighting.[391] According to a French Intelligence website, UAE supplied around 3,000 tons of military equipment to  Haftar forces in late January 2020. The transit operation was completed through "Antonov 124" aircraft, owned by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, and operated by Makassimos Air Cargo Company.[392]
  •  United States – The United States has been active in post-2011 Libya with the military carrying out sporadic airstrikes and raids in the country, predominantly against Islamist groups. In 2014, U.S. commandos seized an oil tanker bound for anti-government militias and returned it to the Libyan national government.[393] Two months later, the U.S. embassy in Tripoli was evacuated due to a heavy militia presence in the capital.[394] In 2015, U.S. warplanes killed the head of the Islamic State in Libya in a strike.[395] In 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama stated that not preparing for a post-Gaddafi Libya was the "worst mistake" of his presidency.[396] On 19 January 2017, the day before President Obama left office, the United States bombed two IS camps in Libya, reportedly killing 80 militants.[397] These types of operations have continued under the Trump administration with a September 2017 airstrike killing an estimated 17 IS militants.[398] On September 25, 2019, airstrike carried out by the U.S. killed 11 suspected ISIL militants in the town of Murzuq, Libya. This was the second airstrike in a week against the militant group, according to U.S. Africa Command.[399] A U.S. military air-raid, on September 27, killed 17 suspected ISIL militants in southwest Libya, making it a third strike against the militia group within a month.[400] On September 30, US Africa Command said it conducted an airstrike in southern Libya that killed 7 ISIL militants, alongside the Government of National Accord. This marked the fourth raid in the region against ISIL in two weeks.[401] On February 10, 2020, at least six Libyan families sued Haftar and the UAE government in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia for committing war crimes in Libya. The families of victims who were either killed, injured or faced attempted killings, demanded $1 billion in damages, said the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Martin F. McMahon & Associates.[402]
  •  Ukraine - A number of Il-76TD turbofan strategic airlifters, belonging to Ukraine-registered companies have been destroyed in Libya. There were reports in Russian information outlets, which claimed the aircraft were possibly smuggling arms to both sides of the civil war.[403]

See also


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