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Libyan Civil War

Years: 2011-2017
Battle deaths: 4,608 [1]
Non-state conflict, battle-deaths: 3,277 [3]
Onesided violence: 152 [2]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]

Published prior to 2013 | Updated: 2018-07-29 01:09:47
The Libyan civil war is a conflict involving a number of state- and non-state actors in Libya.

Its first phase was ignited by protests in the city of Benghazi on February 15, 2011, which led to clashes with security forces, and escalated into a widespread rebellion against the ruler Muammar Gadaffi.

The forces opposing Gaddafi established an interim governing body, the National Transitional Council in the city of Benghazi on 27 February 2011 with the purpose to act as the "political face of the revolution".

In early March, Gaddafi's forces rallied, pushed eastwards and re-took several coastal cities before reaching Benghazi. A further UN resolution authorised member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, and to use "all necessary measures" to prevent attacks on civilians.

In August, rebel forces launched an offensive on the government-held coast of Libya, taking back territory lost months before and ultimately capturing the capital city of Tripoli, while Gaddafi evaded capture and loyalists engaged in a rearguard campaign. On 16 September 2011, the National Transitional Council was recognised by the United Nations as the legal representative of Libya, replacing the Gaddafi government. Muammar Gaddafi remained at large until 20 October 2011, when he was captured and killed attempting to escape from Sirte. The National Transitional Council "declared the liberation of Libya" and the official end of the war on 23 October 2011.

In the aftermath of the civil war, a low-level insurgency by former Gaddafi loyalists continued. Some of the militias which fought in the civil war refused to disarm and cooperation with the NTC was strained, leading to demonstrations against militias and government action to disband such groups or integrate them into the Libyan military. These unresolved issues led directly to a second civil war in Libya.

Escalation in 2014

The tensions in Libyan politics once again escalated to war in 2014. At the center of this conflict is the struggle for power over Libya between the Council of Deputies that was elected democratically in 2014, also known as the "Tobruk government" and the rival Islamist government of the General National Congress (GNC) based in the capital Tripoli.

The internationally recognized Tobruk government has the loyalty of the Libyan Army under the command of General officer Khalifa Haftar and has been supported by air strikes by Egypt and the UAE.

The Islamist government of the GNC, also called the "National Salvation Government", is led by the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by the wider Islamist coalition known as "Libya Dawn" and aided by Qatar, Sudan, and Turkey.

In addition to these there are also other smaller rival groups: the Islamist Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, led by Ansar al-Sharia (Libya), which has had the support of the GNC; the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's Libyan provinces; as well as Tuareg militias of Ghat, controlling desert areas in the southwest; and local forces in Misrata district, controlling the towns of Bani Walid and Tawergha. The belligerents are coalitions of armed groups that sometimes change sides.

In June, the GNC called for new elections to a Council of Deputies: Islamists were defeated, but rejected the results of the election.

The conflict escalated on 13 July 2014, when Tripoli's Islamists and Misratan militias launched Operation Libya Dawn to seize Tripoli International Airport, capturing it from the Zintan militia on 23 August. Shortly thereafter, members of the GNC, whom had rejected the June election, reconvened as a new General National Congress and voted themselves as replacement of the newly elected Council of Deputies, with Tripoli as their political capital, Nouri Abusahmain as president and Omar al-Hasi as prime minister. As a consequence, the majority of the Council of Deputies was forced to relocate to Tobruk, aligning itself with Haftar's forces and eventually nominating him army chief. On 6 November, the supreme court in Tripoli, dominated by the new GNC, declared the Council of Deputies dissolved. The Council of Deputies rejected this ruling as made "under threat".[ On 16 January 2015, Operation Dignity and Libya Dawn factions agreed on a ceasefire. The country is now led by two separate governments, with Tripoli and Misrata controlled by forces loyal to Libya Dawn and the new GNC in Tripoli, while the international community recognizes Abdullah al-Thani's government and its parliament in Tobruk. Benghazi remains contested between pro-Haftar forces and radical Islamists.

In recent months there have been many political developments. A United Nations-brokered ceasefire deal was reached in December 2015, and on 31 March 2016, the leaders of the new UN-supported unity government arrived in Tripoli. On 5 April, the rival self-declared National Salvation Government led by the new GNC announced that it was ceasing operations and handing power to the new unity government.


This article was compiled from the following Wikipedia articles, published under the GNU FDL. Retrieved 2016-04-18.

First phase, 2011,
Second phase, 2014 to present


Data Sources

[1] Battle deaths: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v. 5-2017 (link) (1989-2017) #11346 #13694
Low: 4,505 High: 7,263

[2] UCDP One-sided Violence Dataset v. 1.4-2016 (link) including actors: / Government of Libya
Low: 152 High: 168

[3] UCDP Non-State Conflict Dataset UCDP Non-State Conflict Dataset v. 2.5-2017 (link) including dyads: / Gontrar, Zintan vs Mashashia / Toubou vs Awlad Suleiman / ASL vs Forces of the House of Representatives / February 17 Martyrs Brigade, Rafallah al-Sahati Brigade vs Forces of the House of Representatives / Libya Dawn vs Zintan Military Council / Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council vs Forces of the House of Representatives / Derna Mujahideen Shura Council vs IS / Forces of the House of Representatives vs IS / Toubou vs Zwai / Toubou vs Touareg / Ajdabiya Revolutionaries Shura Council vs Forces of the House of Representatives / Derna Mujahideen Shura Council vs Forces of the House of Representatives / BDB vs Forces of the House of Representatives / Toubou vs Zaghawa
Low: 3,246 High: 3,666

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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