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    A tank of Libyan National Army (LNA) is seen during clashes with Islamist militants in their last stronghold in Benghazi, Libya, July 6, 2017

    LNA Announces No-Fly Zone for Combat Aircraft Amid Advance on Tripoli - Reports

    © REUTERS / Esam Omran Al-Fetori
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    According to Al Jazeera, aircraft from the Government of National Accord (GNA) have conducted an airstrike against troops from the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, 80 kilometres south of Tripoli.

    The broadcaster reported that the airstrike was conducted in the city of Gharyan, earlier seized by the LNA without any clashes. Following the reports, the LNA announced the establishment of a no-fly zone over the western part of the country.

    "The Libyan Army declares the western region of the country to be a zone of military operations and is imposing a ban on flights of combat aviation in this area", the LNA statement, cited by Al Arabiya, said. "We will strike any airports in the west from which combat aircraft carry out their missions".

    The millitary also said that their units have gained full control over Tripoli International Airport, located 34 kilometres (21 miles) from the Libyan capital, which has not been in operation since 2014 as its infrastructure was significantly damaged.

    "In an unprecedented historical event for the residents of Libya, the [LNA] has just established control over the whole Tripoli International Airport", the press service of LNA said in a statement, seen by Sputnik.

    READ MORE: Pro-Haftar Forces Regain Control Over Checkpoint West of Tripoli — Source

    A source in the LNA previously told Sputnik that the forces had already captured several settlements and key positions to the west, south, and southwest of Tripoli, including Gharyan, Al-Swani, Janzur, and a checkpoint, located in the Wershiffana area.

    The LNA offensive began on Thursday, with Haftar stating he aimed at "liberating Tripoli from terrorists".

    The conflict between the factions continues to escalate despite the talks that Haftar and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, who heads the UN-supported GNA held in February. During the negotiations, both sides agreed to unite state institutions and hold general elections in the country by the end of the year.

    As a result of a years-long series of conflicts that erupted following a rebellion and murder of the ex-head of state Muammar Gaddafi, there has been no single central government in Libya. The Tobruk-based parliament, elected in 2014 and backed by the LNA, governs the east of Libya, while the GNA, established in 2015, controls Libya's western parts from Tripoli.

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    Tags:
    Libyan war, Libyan National Army (LNA), Libyan Government of National Accord, Khalifa Haftar, Tripoli, Libya
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