GNA retakes key towns in Libya amidst coronavirus pandemic

Fighting continues as the COVID-19 pandemic grows Fighting continues as the COVID-19 pandemic grows AFP Photo/Mahmud TURKIA

16 April 2020

The internationally recognized Tripoli government retook three cities from Haftar’s forces according to spokesperson Mohammed Gnunu from the Government of National Accord (GNA). The three strategic towns included Surman, Sabratha, and al-Ajaylat. This marks a major setback for Haftar’s forces whose year-long offensive on Tripoli has yet to breach the city. On Monday, Colonel Muhammad Qanunu stated that the GNA captured planes belonging to Haftar’s forces. 

The fighting killed nine GNA soldiers and over thirty belonging to Haftar’s command, with a number of Sudanese and Chadian fighters on the latter side. No initial reports on civilian casualties are available. On March 17, governments of the world had urged for a ceasefire to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country. UN efforts towards this have continued on to no end. The head of the UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame quit in early March, citing personal health reasons. 

The continued fighting during the coronavirus pandemic has only further threatened the wellbeing of civilians. On April 12, Al Jazeera reported that medical warehouses owned by a hospital in Tripoli were attacked by Haftar’s forces. The hospital was treating coronavirus patients. At the time of this article, there are a reported 35 cases of the coronavirus in the country. 

Deputy head of sub-delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross stated when speaking to Al Jazeera that, 

“Doctors and first responders, who need to be trained on infection prevention and equipped with PPE, are routinely called back to the frontlines to treat war wounded. Local community healthcare workers are also already overloaded.”


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Author: Rachel Warner; Editor: Teagan Foti

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