Libya’s biggest oil port was seized by an armed group, dealing a blow to the beleaguered country as it seeks to revive production of its most important commodity.
The Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), a coalition of militias that is not allied to the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, took control of the Sidra terminal on Friday afternoon. The facility had previously been under the control of eastern-based military commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
“That is a considerable blow to Haftar,” said Mattia Toalda, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “We have to see if there is an immediate effect on exports. But for confidence in Libya’s production it’s a blow.”
Bombers from the Libyan National Army (LNA) in east Libya hit tanks and armed vehicles of the militia offensive near the coastal town of Nawfiliya, 50 kilometres from the country’s largest port of Sidra, said an LNA spokesman. The clashes show just how vulnerable Libya’s recent oil-production surge is to conflict that escalated in late 2014 but that had shown signs of calming in the past few months