The incident is a major turning point in the “Battle of Tripoli” which has been ongoing for nearly three months. Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces have been on the defensive since they suffered a serious blow on June 26th with the loss of the Gharyan locality 80 km southwest of the Libyan capital.
While the military stalemate continued since the beginning of the April 4 offensive around the front lines where the forces loyal to the government of “national agreement” (GAN) of Faïez Sarraj sitting in Tripoli and the attacking units clashed of the Libyan National Army (ANL) of Haftar, the defeat suffered by them in Gharyan upset the deal.
This city clinging to the flank of Jebel (mountains) Nefoussa, strategic lock between the Libyan West and South, had become the center of command of the ANL in this region of Tripolitania. “This is a break in the military configuration” around Tripoli, commented Emad Badi, researcher at the Middle East Institute. From Gharyan, the ANL supplied weapons and men its positions on the various front lines at Aziziya, on the outskirts of Tripoli or, inside the conurbation, around the international airport (closed) or the highly disputed district of Ain Zara.
Haftar had seemed to awaken some sympathy before the start of the offensive of April 4 in Tripolitania. He had indeed capitalized in his favor the lassitude of the local population with regard to the arbitrary rule of a myriad of militia more or less Mafiosi.
But the method adopted in his sudden assault on the government of Faïez Sarraj, recognized by the international community, prompted in reaction a mobilization of different armed groups of Tripolitania, including the port city of Misrata, which halted its offensive.