TRIPOLI (AFP) – Late on Friday, Khalifa Haftar’s supporters in Libya started an aerial attack on a Chadian rebel stronghold in the southern desert, according to his office.
The warring leaders of Libya have formed ties with various rebel organizations in neighboring Chad and Sudan throughout the stop-start violence that has plagued the country for the past 12 years.
According to its press office, the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Haftar blasted rebel positions in Chad on the Libyan side of the border on Friday evening before beginning an airborne assault.
According to LNA Chief Press Officer Khalifa al-Obeidi, the immediate objective was an unfinished housing complex in the isolated outpost of Umm al-Araneb in Murzuq district, where more than 2,000 homes under construction had been occupied by rebel fighters and their families.
Saddam Haftar, the leader of the LNA’s ground troops, was “at the Chadian border to supervise operations… to rid the area of armed gangs,” Obeidi continued.
The LNA will “no longer permit armed groups or factions to use Libyan territory to launch attacks against neighboring countries,” according to Ahmad al-Mesmari, a spokesperson for Haftar.
Which armed force in Chad was the LNA’s operation’s goal was left unclear. Many rebel organizations run out of the border-spanning Tibesti mountains.
Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, the interim leader of Chad, traveled to the far north earlier this month to gather his forces following an assault by the self-styled Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR), which has been active in the border region.
Both the UN-backed government of Abdelhamid Dbeibah in Tripoli and the Haftar-backed government in the east of the country both have competing governments established there.