On Friday, the Zuwara Security Directorate in western Libya, called on residents to “stay away from places that could be the target of airstrikes by the Government of National Unity (GNU).”
The Directorate said in a statement that the strikes are targeting fuel smuggling dens in the western region. It urged residents to stay away from these “suspicious” places, for their own safety.
The Tripoli-based government is waging an extensive military operation targeting “smugglers,” in the west of the war-torn country.
The operation was condemned by the Libyan Parliament. The US, the UK and France also expressed their concerns about the strikes, calling on the Libyan authorities to ensure the safety of the civilians.
A dissident military commander also voiced concerns over the use of drones by the GNU, in targeting human traffickers and fuel smugglers at Al-Zawiya, western Libya. The Commander of the Libyan Western military region, Major General Osama Al-Juwaili that “this may complicate the political situation, because all parties will seek to possess weapons and there will be an arms race, and Libya does not need more weapons and chaos.”
He elucidated that “using drones to counteract crime is often a pretext for settling political scores, and exploiting state authority and resources.”
Reiterating his stance on the ongoing crisis in Libya, Al-Juwaili emphasised that “the path to a resolution must be steered by military and security leadership.”
Last week, the Official Spokesman for the GNU, Mohamed Hammouda commented on the airstrikes that targeted various areas in Al-Zawiya. “This morning our national air force carried out successful and targeted airstrikes against a number of hideouts of fuel smuggling, drug, and human trafficking gangs in the western coast,” he said in media statements.
Hammouda added that the operation was “launched on the direct orders by Prime Minister Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba. These were part of a military plan to purge the areas along the west coast, and other sites of trafficking criminals and gangs.”
Earlier, Hammouda stressed that they “will continue the military operations until all objectives are achieved.”
The Deputy Head of the Council of Elders of Al-Zawiya, Jumaa Al-Jilani confirmed that two people were injured as a result of the drone strikes. The Ambulance and Emergency Service announced that one person was slightly injured, near the Sayeda Zainab area, south of Al-Zawiya.
Meanwhile, MP Ali Bouzraiba claimed that Turkish drones had conducted the airstrikes, by order of Dbaiba. Turkey is believed to control a number of military bases in western Libya, most notably the Al-Watiya airbase.