Fighters belonging to the 219 Battalion assaulted the Great Man-Made River Project station in Ash Shwayrif on Sunday, May 19, and cut off the water supply to Tripoli and the surrounding area. According to media reports, the gunmen forced staff to shut down water pipes connected to underground wells. More than 2 million people could be affected by water shortages in the coming days unless operations resume at the facility. The Government of National Accord (GNA) has accused the 219 Battalion of coordinating the attack with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) as it assaults Tripoli. Water shortages are expected in Tripoli and the surrounding area in the coming days and it is unclear when the facility will resume operations.
The installation is located approximately 400 km (250 mi) south of Tripoli and was previously attacked twice by the 219 Battalion in 2017. According to local reports, the commander of the group turned off the water in an attempt to force the GNA to release his brother, who has been detained since 2017.
The LNA launched an advance on Tripoli on April 4. Evacuations of foreigners from Tripoli began en masse on April 7. LNA and GNA airstrikes have been sporadically reported since April 8. LNA officials supporting Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar have announced their intention to continue the advance on Tripoli and signaled possible conflict in central oil ports, such as Ras Lanuf and As-Sidr. The bulk of recent fighting has been concentrated in Tripoli's southern suburbs.
Individuals in Tripoli are advised to monitor developments to the situation, prepare for water shortages, avoid areas affected by the fighting, and refrain from nonessential movement within the city.
The security environment in Libya remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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