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The Libyan Army[2] is the land warfare branch of the military of Libya, which since December 2015 has been nominally subordinated to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli. Due to the instability in the country in 2011 civil war and the outbreak of a new conflict in 2014, the Libyan ground forces remain highly divided, with major components constituting the Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of Khalifa Haftar.[3] The forces loyal to the GNA have been fighting against various other factions in Libya, as well as terrorists groups like the Islamic State.[4][5] Some efforts have been made to create a truly national army, but most of the forces under the Tripoli government's command consist of various militia groups, such as the Tripoli Protection Force, and local factions from cities like Misrata and Zintan.[6][7]

Libyan Army
Flag of the Libyan Ground Forces.svg
Libyan Army Flag
2016 (current form)
Country Libya
AllegiancePresidential Council
RoleLand warfare
  • 6000 (Greater Tripoli, Aug 2019)[1]:7
  • 22002400 (Sirte, Aug 2019)[1]:8
Part ofLibyan Armed Forces
ColorsBlack, red
Chairman of the Presidential CouncilFayez al-Sarraj
Chief of General StaffLt. Gen. Mohammed al-Shareef


In 2017, there was no truly unified army or air force under the Presidential Council's command, and only the Libyan Navy was fully operating under the GNA's control.[8] The Tripoli government aimed to integrate many different militia groups into a regular command structure,[4][9][10] and created a Presidential Guard. Prime Minister Sarraj hold the role of supreme commander of the army.[11] The Libyan Army is commanded by the GNA Defense Ministry, which was initially led by Colonel Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi from 2016[12] until he was removed in July 2018, at which point GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj took on the role of defense minister.[13][7] The Chief of the General Staff was Major General Abdel Rahman al-Taweel,[8] from September 2017 until his removal in February 2019, being replaced by Lieutenant General Mohammed al-Shareef.[14]


Since the establishment of the Government of National Accord in 2016 clashes continued to occur between different factions in Tripoli nominally loyal to the new UN-backed unity government, leaving hundreds dead. Khalifa al-Ghawil proclaimed the creation of a new government consisting of the former General National Congress.[15] Elements of the Presidential Guard defected to the rebels and took over key buildings in the capital.[16][17] Pro-GNA forces eventually were able to defeat the GNC coup attempt.[18][19] Around mid-2017, militias allied to the GNA fully secured the capital. In August 2018 fighting broke out between different groups in Tripoli that were all nominally subordinated to the GNA's defense ministry, forcing Prime Minister Sarraj to call in other militias from different towns outside the capital. A unit called the 7th Brigade had rebelled, leading to its dissolution.[7][20]


On 6 April 2019, a joint operations room was formed in response to Khalifa Haftar's attack on Tripoli to coordinate their military forces. It is led by Western military zone commander Osama al-Juwaili and includes the heads of the Tripoli and Central military zones, the Counter-Terrorism Force, and representatives from the Presidential Guard and Military Intelligence Bureau.[11]

In response to a common interest in defending Tripoli against the LNA, the armed militias that in mid 2019 composed the armed forces of the GNA coordinated with one another mainly by agreement among armed group commanders rather than by the official command structure. The militias remained mostly autonomous in decision-making while formally being integrated into the GNA chain of command. Lacher Wolfram, writing in a Security Assessment in North Africa publication, described this as "bottom-up integration" and a "remarkable development" that "could potentially serve as a starting point for the creation of properly integrated forces ... [with] loyalty to a unified command structure".[1]

Military zonesEdit

On 1 June 2017, the GNA announced the creation of seven military zones throughout Libya. They include Tripoli, Benghazi, Tobruk, Sabha (Southern), Kufra, Central (from Misrata to Zuwetina), and Western (west of Tripoli to Jebel Nafusa) . The commanders of each zone were responsible for training and preparation of the forces in their area and answered to the Libyan army chief of staff. Not all of the territories accounted for were under the GNA's control at the time.[21][22][23]

The leaders of the military zones are as follows.

Known unitsEdit

Relations with the LNAEdit

The other major military force in Libya is the Libyan National Army (LNA), which in 2014 evolved from what was originally called the LNA in 2011 following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. In 2014, the LNA came under the control of Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the House of Representatives, whose geographical location is in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk. In April 2019, after months of negotiations failing to bring about a reconciliation between the two rival governments, the LNA and the GNA's forces entered into open hostilities in the Tripoli region with Haftar launching an offensive on the capital.[32]


  1. ^ a b c Lacher, Wolfram (2019). "Who is fighting whom in Tripoli? How the 2019 civil war is transforming Libya's military landscape" (PDF). Security Assessment in North Africa Briefing Paper. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 November 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  2. ^ Assad, Abdulkader (8 October 2019). "Al-Sarraj orders military support for Libyan Army forces on frontlines". The Libya Observer. Archived from the original on 15 November 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  3. ^ Ali H. M.Abo Rezeg (20 March 2018). Cairo eyes unification of Libyan military establishment. Anadolu Agency.
  4. ^ a b Lewis, Aidan (31 August 2016). Libyan forces prepare for last push against Islamic State in Sirte. Reuters.
  5. ^ Nicholas Norbrook (22 June 2016). Libyan army gains ground against IS in Sirte. The Africa Report.
  6. ^ Wehrey, Frederic (19 March 2019). A Minister, a General, and the Militias: Libya's Shifting Balance of Power. The New York Review of Books.
  7. ^ a b c Dozens dead after days of clashes near Libyan capital. France24. Published 31 August 2018.
  8. ^ a b Serraj appoints military chief of staff. Libya Herald. Published 1 September 2017.
  9. ^ Szuba, Jared (5 April 2019). Haftar's Libyan National Army advances on Tripoli as western militias mobilize. The Defense Post.
  10. ^ a b Pro-Karah Office Tipped for Top Military Post. The Libya Times. Published 14 March 2018.
  11. ^ a b PC President forms joint military operations room as war rocks Tripoli yet again. Libya Observer. Published 6 April 2019.
  12. ^ Ayyub, Saber.Opposing reactions to appointment of unity government’s defence minister Archived 18 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Libya Herald. Published 21 January 2016.
  13. ^ Libyan Presidential Council gives its Defense Minister the sack. Libya Observer. Published 29 July 2018.
  14. ^ Lieutenant General Mohammed Al-Sharif takes office as Libya's Chief of Staff. Libya Observer. Published 14 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Clashes erupt in Libyan capital". Archived from the original on 16 October 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Rival group seizes Libya's UN-backed government offices". Archived from the original on 22 October 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Presidential Guard defects and pledges allegiance to Al-Ghweil Salvation Government". 16 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Ceasefire reached in Tripoli after three days of bloody fighting". Libyan Express. 15 March 2017. Archived from the original on 21 August 2017. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  19. ^ "Libya govt forces overrun Tripoli militia headquarters". Agence-France Presse. Arab News. 15 March 2017. Archived from the original on 30 April 2017. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Notorious militia leader returns to ignite Libya conflict". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  21. ^ PC decides to divide the country into seven military zones. Libya Herald. 1 June 2017.
  22. ^ a b c PC appoints military commanders. Libya Herald. Published 4 June 2017.
  23. ^ Libya to be divided into 7 military zones. Middle East Monitor. Published 2 June 2017.
  24. ^ Mahmoud, Khalid (27 May 2018). Libya: Sarraj Discusses Situation in South. Asharq al-Awsat.
  25. ^ a b c Fayez al-Sarraj parleys with some Libyan military commanders. PanaPress. Published 4 March 2019.
  26. ^ Libya: Al-Sirraj appoints Ali Kanna commander of Sabha military zone. Libya Observer. Published 6 February 2019.
  27. ^ Kufra tribes gather for peace and vow support to LNA. Libya Herald. Published 2 May 2018.
  28. ^ Carlino, Ludovico (7 February 2019). Appointment of anti-LNA commander in southern Libya indicates Tripoli’s intent to recover territory taken by the LNA. Jane's.
  29. ^ Dabbashi: Ali Kanna wanted to grant Libyan nationality to Malian Tuaregs in 2011. Address Libya. Published 7 February 2019.
  30. ^ "Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade seizes Hadba Prison, kills two guards as fighting intensifies". Libyan Express. 27 May 2017.
  31. ^ "Renewed militia clashes shake Tripoli". Libya Herald. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  32. ^ "Libya's GNA forces announce 'counteroffensive' to defend Tripoli". Al Jazeera English. 8 April 2019. Archived from the original on 14 November 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.