The move comes after the forces of UN-recognised government recently recaptured most of the territory held by Khalifa Haftar's illegal militias in northwest Libya, ending the warlord's 14-month campaign to seize the capital Tripoli.

Troops loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government prepare themselves before heading to Sirte, in Tripoli, Libya on July 6, 2020.
Troops loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government prepare themselves before heading to Sirte, in Tripoli, Libya on July 6, 2020. (Reuters)

Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has moved fighters and military vehicles closer to Sirte, a gateway to Libya's main oil terminals that the GNA says it plans to recapture from the eastern-based warlord Khalifa Haftar's illegal militias.

A large number of military vehicles reached Abugrein as part of Operation Paths to Victory, that was launched to liberate the central city of Sirte and Jufra from Haftar’s militias, according to army sources.

Witnesses earlier said they saw a column of about 200 vehicles moving eastwards from Misrata along the Mediterranean coast towards the town of Tawergha, about a third of the way to Sirte.

The GNA recently recaptured most of the territory held by the Haftar's militias in northwest Libya, ending the warlord's 14-month campaign to take the capital, Tripoli, before the new front line solidified between Misrata and Sirte.

Backed by Turkey, the GNA has said it will recapture Sirte and an airbase at Jufra.

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Escalating conflict

But Egypt, which backs Haftar alongside the United Arab Emirates and Russia, has threatened to send troops into Libya if the GNA and Turkish forces try to seize Sirte.

The United States has said Moscow has sent warplanes to Jufra via Syria to act in support of Russian mercenaries who are fighting alongside Haftar's militias. Moscow and the Haftar both deny this.

Hafatar's militias have also sent fighters and weapons to bolster their defence of Sirte, already badly battered from earlier phases of warfare and chaos since the 2011 revolution against longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi.

The GNA army, which is deployed to the west of strategically important Sirte and Jufra, has expressed its determination to get Sirte and Jufra from Haftar’s militias.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies