Libyan troops loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an airborne assault on a Chadian rebel headquarters in the southern desert late Friday, his office said.
The stop-start conflict which has gripped Libya for the past 12 years has seen its rival leaders forge alliances with various rebel factions in neighboring Chad and Sudan.
On Friday evening, the air force of Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) bombarded Chadian rebel positions on the Libyan side of the border, before launching an airborne assault, its press office said.
The immediate target was an unfinished housing complex in the remote outpost of Umm al-Araneb in Murzuq district, where the more than 2,000 homes under construction have been taken over by rebel fighters and their families, said LNA chief press officer Khalifa al-Obeidi.
Haftar’s son Saddam, who heads LNA ground forces, was “at the Chadian border to supervise operations… to cleanse the area of armed gangs,” Obeidi added.
Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari vowed that the LNA would “no longer allow armed groups or factions to use Libyan territory to launch attacks against neighbouring countries.”
The LNA did not specify which Chadian armed faction was the target of its operation. A number of rebel groups operate out of the Tibesti mountains which straddle the border.
Earlier this month, Chad’s transitional president Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno visited the far north to rally his troops after an attack by the self-styled Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR), which has been active in the border region.
Libya has rival administrations based in its east and west, with Abdelhamid Dbeibah‘s UN-backed government in Tripoli vying for authority with an administration backed by Haftar in the east.