Libya Oil Output Falls as Fresh Clashes Force Ports to Shut Down

BDB fighter inside Ras Lanuf Airport

They have been under the control of the eastern -based Libyan National Army (LNA), led by military commander Khalifa Haftar.

It did not detail any specific measures taken or say that there had been any change to operations in the ports.

Brig. Gen. Bukhamada reiterated in a TV phone call with Al-Nabaa TV Channel that the goal of the PFG is to secure the oil facilities and will never be part of the conflict for them.

Colonel Ahmad al-Mismari, a spokesman for the LNA, said fresh strikes on Monday hit vehicles of the Islamist militia, which controlled Libya's second city Benghazi until Haftar's forces ousted them from almost all of it in an offensive started in 2014.

"The attackers were armed with modern tanks", LNA spokesperson Colonel Ahmad al-Mismari said. "But the battle in ongoing".

Rocked by chaos since the overthrow and killing of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya desperately needs to relaunch its oil exports, the backbone of its economy.

The energy terminals at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf are two of Libya's largest, with a combined production capacity of some 600,000 barrels of oil per day.

Libya remains regionally split with two centres of power that politically oppose each other, and a myriad of rival armed groups that the country's two governments can not control.

The stakes are high in this particular battle because it affects everyone - oil is Libya's lifeline.It remains unclear exactly how much control the BDB has gained.

In an effort to resolve the political deadlock, Libya's rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement in late 2015 establishing a government of national unity.

The Brigades militia are allied with eastern tribes opposed to Haftar and members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard which controlled the oil ports before Haftar's takeover.

"We are trying to repel them and the air force has carried out several sorties", Megarief said, declining to elaborate.

The Benghazi Defence Brigades carried out a similar attack on the Oil Crescent in December, but were forced back by Haftar's forces.

Barghathi's comments came after the Tripoli government on Friday denied any involvement in the offensive against the Oil Crescent, and condemning it as a "military escalation".

And in January, powerful militias from the western city of Misrata had joined another such attack on the oil crescent.