The Turkish-backed forces of Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) have captured the leader of a militia allied with rebel general Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), Anadolu news agency said on Friday.
Riyad el-Kubeyyir was captured while attempting to flee the city of Terhune, which is under an offensive by the GNA’s forces.
Anadolu said el-Kubeyyir is the leader of a Salafist militia allied to Haftar’s forces.
Terhune province, 90 kilometres southeast of Tripoli, has been used as an operational and supply centre for Haftar’s forces in his assault on the capital, which he launched in April 2019.
The GNA’s forces said they now have full control of Tripoli’s administrative borders. Terhune remains under assault by the GNA’s forces, Anadolu said.
Anadolu also reported that the GNA had seized a combat helicopter, as well as camouflaged artillery batteries and multi-barrelled rocket launchers mounted on vehicles, in areas captured south of the capital city of Tripoli.
Anadolu said the GNA had also captured an ammunition depot, five military vehicles, three armoured vehicles, seven tanks, and three personnel carriers in Vadi er-Rebi, 25 kilometres southeast of Tripoli.
Last month, GNA-aligned forces – backed by Turkish firepower – won a string of victories over the LNA in the west of the country, recapturing a major base and ousting Haftar’s forces from Asaba, a key town south of Tripoli.
This week it announced it had retaken the strategically important Tripoli International Airport from forces allied to the LNA.
Before Turkey’s military intervention in Libya in December 2019, Haftar’s LNA had been gaining the upper hand in its bid to capture Tripoli.