On Wednesday, May 20, Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA), announced that LNA forces have decided to retire 2 to 3 km (1.2 to 1.9 mi) from all front lines in Tripoli from midday (local time) on Wednesday. According to the LNA, the purpose of the temporary withdrawal is to allow citizens in the capital to move more freely during the end of Ramadan and the upcoming Eid-al-Fitr holiday. Mismari also urged the Government of National Accord (GNA) to make a similar commitment. However, the withdrawal follows several advances by the GNA to the west of the capital, including the capturing of the Watiya airbase on Monday, May 18.
Despite the disengagement, further clashes between LNA and GNA forces are to be expected over the near term.
The withdrawal comes following a series of setbacks for the LNA, as Turkish-backed GNA forces have pushed back LNA influence around Tripoli over the months of April and May. Some sources indicate that the disengagement is possibly being used by the LNA to consolidate their forces into more defendable positions around the capital so as to not lose their foothold there following recent losses.
Since an LNA offensive on Tripoli in April 2019, several ceasefires between the GNA and LNA have fallen through.
The LNA launched an offensive on Tripoli on April 4, 2019, and prompted evacuations of foreigners from Tripoli on April 7, 2019. LNA and Government of National Accord (GNA) airstrikes have been sporadically reported since April 8, 2019. The bulk of recent fighting has been concentrated in the southern suburbs of the capital.
The security environment in Libya remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas (with appropriate security protocols in place), other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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