Tensions rise in Libya’s Sirte as the city becomes central to the conflict
Since June 2020, Sirte has become a major focus of the Libyan conflict. With its central geographical and social location, the city has become the dividing line between the General Command of Haftar’s Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, on the one hand and the Turkish-supported Government of National Accord (GNA) forces on the other. After being forced to withdraw from Tripoli and western Libya in June 2020, the LAAF reinforced its positions in Sirte with ground and air support by Russian Wagner Group mercenaries and prevented the GNA forces from advancing to regain control over the city. A shadow agreement concluded on 7 June between GNA Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteg and Russia created tensions within the GNA and resulted in the suspension of plans to retake the city. The frontline has since then been frozen in an area between Sirte and Jufra air base further south.