Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesperson Ahmed Al-Mismari stated in a press conference on Tuesday that the LNA had started the process of withdrawing troops and equipment from Al-Watiya airbase months ago.
“We withdrew important equipment from the base about three months ago, such as planes and military vehicles”, he said, adding that “the Commander in Chief, Khalifa Haftar, issued a decision on Monday to withdraw individuals under air defense cover”.
Al-Mismari denied reports of a total withdrawal from Tripoli, stressing that there was a redistribution of forces in the combat hubs within the scope of operations.
The spokesman said that “this measure was taken to protect the civilian neighborhoods in Tripoli from the enemy’s shelling during Eid Al-Fitr, and so that civilians were not targeted by militias”.
Mismari also said that military units would be repositioned from the axes south of Tripoli “to new locations” that “may require repositioning to previous locations within a well-studied tactical process”.
He noted that the LNA continues its fight and is capable of liberating Tripoli from militias, foreign fighters and extremists that are aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA).
Earlier on Monday, the Prime Minister of the GNA, Fayez Al-Sarraj, announced that GNA forces had taken control of Al-Watiya airbase.
In a statement, Sarraj said that he was proud to announce “the liberation of the Al-Watiya military base,” joining the “liberated cities” on the west coast.