Libya’s GNU airstrikes city of Zawia


Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) has committed more drone strikes on June 2nd against what it alleges are smuggling gangs in western Libyan cities, according to Reuters. These drone strikes are exacerbating the already tense and uncertain atmosphere in the region, further escalating the prevailing sense of instability and uncertainty.

Following the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has undergone a convoluted and fragmented political situation. The nation swiftly became polarized, with rival factions in the east and west, each asserting their own authority and contending armed factions in a struggle for dominance.

READ: Tensions escalate in Libya, Tripoli govt targets smugglers

In recent weeks, the GNU, the U.N.-backed government, has increased violent attacks on western cities of Libya as it has been devoted to the goal of eliminating “hideouts used by gangs of smugglers in fuel, narcotics and humans in the western coastal region,” claims The New Arab.

These same recent strikes have also hit a number of individuals who have been linked to figures opposed to Prime Minister Abdelhamid al-Dbeibah, prompting outrage and accusations of an ulterior motive by the GNU. This has also prompted the Benghazi-based government to accuse the GNU of carrying out these airstrikes with the goal of “settling political scores”, even saying one attack had targeted the home of a parliament member.

The airstrikes that occurred on June 2nd show that even though western actors have called for the de-escalation of this situation, an end doesn’t seem to be near. 

READ: Pipeline closure fuels chaos in Western Libya, US “concerned”

Zawia, the city where the most recent attacks occurred, is home to one of Libya’s main refineries and petrol import terminals. This city has been a hotspot for violent activity as it is a center for fuel smuggling and people trafficking, arguments over who controls this integral city has also been a space for debate. 

A resident of Zawia told Reuters:“The situation in the city is terrible. Armored vehicles with tinted windows are everywhere. Wedding parades happen with military cars, some carrying medium weapons. Imagine engagement parties with bombs!” 

READ: Libya: Violence erupts in Tripoli as armed factions clash

Another citizen expressed that, after dark, the city is a war zone, saying “When you enter the city you can hear gunfire. Clashes break out at any time or place. As ordinary people our life ends before sunset and then it’s time for the gangs.” 

The June 2nd attacks come in the wake of armed groups closing fuel and gas pipelines near the Zawia oil refinery on the evening of May 29th, according to Maghrebi this could result in many civilians losing access to electricity and gas.

Reuters/The New Arab/Maghrebi


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