Eastern Libyan forces loyal to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar have taken over the streets of the largest Southern city of Sebha.
According to them, the offensive is aimed at fighting “terrorists” and foreign armed groups. This could exacerbate political and ethnic tensions in an already chaotic country.
More than seven years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya remains deeply divided with the UN-backed government of national unity based in Tripoli and the Libyan National Army in Benghazi.
The vast desert region borders Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan. The south has generally been abandoned by these rival authorities competing for power in the north.
Aside fighting terrorists and foreign armed group, some analysts believe the offensive launched by Haftar’s forces has to do with securing oil fields.
Libya’s oil industry has faced disruption since the country plunged into civil war, with rival governments jostling for control.
Haftar’s military operation risks sabotaging efforts to end the Libyan political crisis, with elections scheduled to take place this year.