An armed alliance involved in a three-week battle over the Libyan smuggling hub of Sabratha said yesterday it had taken over protection of the Mellitah oil and gas terminal after expelling a rival group.
An organisation called the Operations Room and its allies have been fighting the Anas al-Dabbashi brigade, a major facilitator of migrant smuggling that recently said it had changed tack and struck a deal with the UN-backed government in Tripoli to stop boats setting off across the Mediterranean.
The fighting killed 17 and wounded 164, Omar Abduljaleel, commander of the Operations Room, told reporters in Sabratha, a town west of the capital Tripoli.
The Dabbashi brigade had been guarding the facility west of Sabratha since 2015.
It is run jointly by Libya’s National Oil Corp (NOC) and Italian firm Eni.
The setback for the Dabbashi brigade creates new uncertainty over the control of migrant flows from Libya.
Since a 2016 deal between the EU and Turkey to block crossings in the Aegean, Libya has been the gateway for the vast majority of migrants trying to reach Europe by boat, and the area around Sabratha has been the most common departure point.
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