Libya has been mired in conflict since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The oil-rich country is now split between two rival administrations vying for power: the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital, Tripoli, and a parallel eastern-based administration allied to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar, who is supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia, launched an offensive to seize Tripoli in April last year. Backed by Turkey, GNA forces repulsed the 14-month push and drove Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) from the capital’s outskirts and other parts of western Libya.
GNA fighters have since pressed towards the strategic city of Sirte, the birthplace of Gaddafi located 450km (280 miles) east of Tripoli. The GNA has pledged to retake the Mediterranean city along with the inland al-Jufra airbase.
Neighbouring Egypt has threatened to send troops into Libya in support of Haftar if the GNA and Turkish forces try to seize Sirte. Last week, the Egyptian parliament gave a green light for possible military intervention.