Violent clashes between fuel smugglers in western Libya

Local sources told “Sky News Arabia” that the confrontations started late Tuesday evening and continued until Wednesday morning, inside the Harsha area and on the way to the Zawia refinery.

The sources confirmed that the militia known as the “Victory Brigade” was a party to the confrontations, which led to damage to public and private property, while it is not yet clear that there were civilian casualties or deaths among the warring groups.

The clashes also resulted in severe damage to the dual power station of Al-Zawiya, and the breakdown of 3 power generating units.

The General Electricity Company stated in a statement that the confrontations led to the disconnection of the power distribution circuits in 3 units, and stated that the matter would negatively affect the electricity network and lead to an increase in the hours of power cuts, while the specialized technical teams were unable to repair the damage due to the deteriorating security situation in the area.

And the militia struggle continues in western Libya to control more areas of influence, especially with the chaos of arms.

The capital, Tripoli, witnessed the last of those confrontations on the fifth of last February, when violent clashes erupted in the vicinity of Al-Furnaj Island between the “777 Militia”, recently founded by Haitham Al-Tajouri, and a force affiliated with the so-called “Deterrence Militia”.

The strategic expert, Brigadier General Muhammad al-Rajbani, said that these “gangs” exploit young people who did not provide them with job opportunities, to get them involved in these criminal activities, and “in the end, they do not care about being killed, but what they care about is the fuel shipments they loot, which belong to all Libyans.” .

Al-Rajbani confirmed to “Sky News Arabia” that the limited attempts made during the past years to combat fuel smuggling in the western region were met with threats from armed groups, while “no move was made by those in power in Tripoli to support these efforts.”

He added that in 2017, some of these attempts resulted in stopping the smuggling of 8 million liters of fuel per day, which indicates the huge scale of these operations.

In the same context, political analyst Ezz El-Din Aqeel alluded to the involvement of criminal groups, as well as extremists, in smuggling operations, from which “billion” revenues were achieved, as he put it, and their danger is not only theft of public resources, but it goes to support terrorists.

In his speech to Sky News Arabia, Aqeel stressed the importance of controlling smuggling activity, noting that “the matter will reflect on the security situation in general, as this will contribute to reducing the resources of armed groups and their ability to bring weapons and ammunition, and thus it will be difficult for them to expand and increase their influence, and then decrease The number of its members when it is not able to pay them.”

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