Libya oil terminals retaken by Haftar

This file photo taken on January 08, 2016 shows smoke billowing from a petroleum storage tank after a fire was extinguished at Al-Sidra oil terminal, near Ras Lanuf in the so-called “oil crescent” along Libya’s northern coast. Troops commanded by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an assault on March 14, 2017 to seize two of the country’s key eastern oil terminals, a spokesman said. (AFP)
Updated 15 March 2017
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Libya oil terminals retaken by Haftar

TRIPOLI: Troops commanded by Khalifa Haftar, Libyan military strongman, announced Tuesday the recapture of two key oil installations, as fighting raged in Tripoli where a rival government has struggled to assert its authority.

Libya has experienced years of violence and lawlessness since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of Muammar Qaddafi, a longtime dictator, with rival parliaments and governments trading barbs and militias fighting over territory and the country’s vast oil wealth.

Forces loyal to Haftar mounted a daylong assault by land, sea and air to retake the oil export terminals of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra, after both sites were seized by a rival force earlier this month.

“The armed forces... have liberated the whole of the oil crescent,” said a spokesman for pro-Haftar forces. Gen. Meftah Al-Megaryef, head of the oil installation guards, also said the two terminals had been recaptured.

Basset Al-Shairi, a commander of the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), which had seized the two sites on March 3, said Ras Lanuf had fallen without specifying the outcome in nearby Al-Sidra.

In September, pro-Haftar forces had already captured the terminals and two other eastern oil ports in a blow to the authority of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli.

Haftar backs a rival administration in the country’s far east that has refused to cede power to the Government of National Accord (GNA) working in the capital since last year.

Oil accounts for more than 95 percent of Libya’s revenues.

Haftar’s forces, which call themselves the Libyan National Army (LNA), have battled extremists in second city Benghazi for more than two years.

In Tripoli, fresh fighting raged on between rival armed groups, authorities in the capital said, causing Martin Kobler, UN Libya envoy, to call for an “immediate cease-fire.”

“Civilians at grave risk in ongoing clashes,” he wrote on Twitter.

Gunfire and explosions could be heard in two neighborhoods west of the city center, witnesses said, and several key thoroughfares were blocked, leaving many trapped in their homes.


Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

Updated 18 February 2019
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Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

  • ‘We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible’
  • The minister noted that there is ‘no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship’

BERLIN: Germany vowed Monday to prosecute German Daesh fighters but warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria, after US President Donald Trump called on allies to take back alleged militants.
Syria’s US-backed Kurdish forces, which are battling Daesh group militants in their last redoubt in eastern Syria, hold hundreds of suspected foreign Daesh fighters and the calls for their reluctant home countries to take them back have grown in urgency.
“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild daily.
Underlining the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial, the minister noted that there is “no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship.”
President Bashar “Assad cannot be our counterpart, the Syrian-democratic forces are not a unity government,” she added, stressing that proof and witness statements needed to be secured in Syria if the militants are to be put on trial.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said separately that a return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained.”
For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” Maas told ARD television late Sunday. Under such conditions a repatriation would be “extremely difficult to achieve.”
Berlin wants to “consult with France and Britain ... over how to proceed,” he said.
The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues “the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground,” according to an agenda for the talks.
Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back alleged militants captured in Syria.
Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border.
After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, as well as their wives and children.
Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for their countries of origin to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.
After initial reluctance, Paris appears ready to consider the return of its nationals.
In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution” on Sunday, calling for “calm reflection and looking at what would be the least security risks.”