Extremist militias on Friday attacked Libya’s main oil-production area in the east, prompting the forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar who control it to retaliate with air strikes, military sources said.
The attack was spearheaded by the Benghazi Defense Brigades, a coalition of mostly extremist militias and armed groups, and was backed by tribal fighters and former petroleum installation guards.
They “advanced towards the oil crescent and are 15 kilometers (nine miles) south of the town of Nofliya,” said Colonel Moftah al-Megarief, who heads an oil facilities guard controlled by Haftar.
Nofiliya is on the edge of the North African country’s strategic oil crescent, home to the main export terminals of Al-Sidra, Brega, Ras Lanuf and Zuwaytina which Haftar’s forces seized in September last year.
“We are trying to repel them and the air force has carried out several sorties,” Megarief said, declining to elaborate.
However, an officer on Haftar’s staff told AFP that MiG-23 warplanes and Mi-35 attack helicopters bombarded a convoy of Benghazi Defense Brigades vehicles south of Nofliya.
“Several vehicles were destroyed,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.