Libya has two governments. They are at war with each other and both have TV news channels.
On a channel supporting the Libyan National Army, which controls Libya’s east, a presenter in military fatigues on Sunday sat in front of pictures of soldiers, weapons, and a view the Libyan capital. “We are getting inside Tripoli,” he said.
On a channel supporting the Government of National Accord, which holds the west, including the capital Tripoli, a spokesperson proclaimed the assault had failed, and eastern forces remained in the suburbs. “They were not able to enter,” he said.
A soldier near Tripoli, Libya, runs as a mortar hits a nearby berm, Dec. 2019 (Courtesy – GNA soldiers)Tripoli residents say besides the dangers, ongoing battles have kept Libya in a state of financial crisis and stymied attempts to develop new businesses or attract investors.
On a break from the frontlines to celebrate a wedding in Tripoli, Mohammad Bashir, a soldier with the GNA, said the fighting had subsided by Sunday morning, but nine months of war have already had a lasting impact on his life.
“This war has kidnapped my youth,” he said.
The LNA is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France and Russia, but it is still not strong enough to capture Tripoli, Akl, the analyst, said.
The GNA is recognized by the United Nations and the European Union, and is supported by Turkey, Qatar and Italy. Still, it is unable to fully repel the LNA, he added.
Mohammad Bashir, a GNA fighter is seen near a burning tank in Tripoli, Libya, July 7, 2019. (Heather Murdock/VOA)With the exception of Turkey, all of the international supporters deny providing direct military support to either side, but weapons from several countries have been observed in the field.
On Saturday, the Turkish parliament met to solidify plans to send troops to Libya if requested by the GNA, which has not officially responded to the offer.
Locals said the Turkish offer alone may have prompted Haftar to announce the assault. It was one of many speeches since April in which he declared his forces were poised to swiftly capture the city. In the speech, he called the coming days, the “zero hour” for GNA forces.
GNA soldiers fortified their lines around the city in anticipation of the attack, but Mustafa El-Majee, spokesman for the GNA operations, later reported gaining ground after the battles.
“We think he (Haftar) is playing all of his cards,” Majee said in an interview Sunday evening. “We hope this is his ‘zero hour.’”