East Libyan forces resume strikes against rivals near oil ports

Libya halted exports from its two of biggest oil ports and reduced production from some fields after clashes threatened to reverse the North African country's progress in reviving crude output and sales.

Libya remains regionally split with two centres of power that politically oppose each other, and a myriad of rival armed groups that the country's two governments can not control.

"The attackers were armed with modern tanks", Mismari told the French news agency.

The BDB are composed partly of fighters who were ousted by the LNA in Benghazi, where LNA commander Khalifa Haftar has been waging a military campaign for almost three years against Islamists and other opponents.

The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) and allied forces retreated on Friday from Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, two of Libya's largest export terminals, as a faction known as the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) attacked.

Though Es Sider and Ras Lanuf have been reopened for exports, they were badly damaged in past fighting and are operating well below capacity.

The number of workers at Es Sider's facilities has been kept to a minimum due to the fighting, and the rest of the staff have been evacuated, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public.

He urged both parties to the conflict to "refrain from further escalation" and protect both civilians and Libya's oil facilities.

Libya has been boosting its oil production, resuming shipments from key ports after months of conflict.

An eastern Libyan group says it is carrying out air strikes against rival factions as part of its attempt to push them back from positions around the major oil terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf.

"Haftar claims to control most of the eastern part of Libya around Benghazi", Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, told Al Jazeera. The Tripoli government, however, has condemned the fighting and said it had no role in it.

Mismari said that Haftar's air force had carried out strikes on enemy fighters "from morning to night" on Friday but had been forced to withdraw by the advance on the airport.

Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years in power.