Bookmark and Share

Wars of Libya (1800-Present)


 Map of Libya

Videos of American Military Intervention in Second Libyan Civil War (vs. ISIS)

The History of Libya actually goes back to Biblical times and to the days of the Romans. Modern Libya has only been a nation since indpendence in the years after World War Two. Below are the more recent wars and conflicts in Libyan history (1800 to the present).

First Barbary War (1801-1805)--Also known in the West as the Tripolitanian War, this was a war between Tripoli and the United States. From this conflict, the United States Marine Corps Hymn uses the phrase "From the Shores of Tripoli..."

The Italo-Turkish War of 1911-1912--Italy conquers Libya in a war against the Turks.

World War Two (1940-1943 in Libya)--Although Libya was occupied by Fascist Italy during World War Two, Libya was a battleground between the Italians and Germans on one side, and the British, Americans, and other Allies on the other side. Most of the fighting took place along Libya's Meditterranean coast.

Libyan Incursion into the Aouzou Strip (1954)-King Idris sent the Libyan military into northern Chad to claim ownership of this region. French colonial forces (Chad was still a French colony) repulsed them.

Khaddafi Coup d'etat (Sept. 1, 1969)--The coup led by Colonel Muammar Khaddafi ended the monarchy, and began 42 years of rule by Khaddafi. NOTE: the warlord leading one faction in the 2019 version of the Libyan wars is General Khalifa Haftar. As a junior officer, Hafter participated in the coup that brought Khaddafi to power.

1973 Arab-Israeli War (1973)-Libya sent a small military force to aid the Egyptians in the 1973 war.

Military Coup Attempt (1975)-Failed attempt to overthrow Khaddafi.

Libyan-Egyptian War (1977)--A brief four-day border war between Libya and Egypt.

Libyan Intervention in Uganda-Tanzania War (1978-1979)-Khadaffi was allied to the Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin Dada. Amin made the mistake of attacking his much larger neighbor, Tanzania, who then proceeded to not only kick Ugandan troops from their soil, but then invaded Uganda themselves. Libya sent troops to help the Ugandan Army fight the Tanzanians, but Amin ended up having to flee. Libya had backed the losing side.

Libyan invasion of Chad (occupation of Aouzou Strip) (1979)-In an ongoing border dispute, Libya sent troops to occupy the region of Chad called the Aouzou Strip.

Tobruk Army Revolt (1980)-Failed rebellion against Khaddafi.

First Gulf of Sidra Incident (August 19, 1981)-Clash between U.S. warplanes and the Libyan military over the Gulf of Sidra.

Libyan invasion of Chad (1981)

Libyan/French Conflict in Chad (1983-1984)-Part of the long Chad-Libya Conflict, France intervened to help Chad repel a Libyan invasion. The French military refer to this as Operation Manta.

Anti-Khaddafi Attack (May, 1984)-Commandos of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) attacked Khaddafi's compound in Tripoli, in an attempt to kill him. The attack failed, causing about 80 casualties.

U.S. Air raid against Tripoli and Benghazi (1986)-In response to a terrorist attack on Americans in Berlin, the United States retaliated against Libya with airstrikes directed at the Khaddafi regime. The U.S. operation was called Operation El Dorado Canyon.

Toyota War (1986-1987)-The last part of the the long Chad-Libya Conflict. Chadian forces (using Toyota trucks and a lot of other weapons supplied by the U.S. and France), wipe out large parts of the Libyan Army in northern Chad.

Second Gulf of Sidra Incident (January 4, 1989)--Second clash between U.S. warplanes and the Libyan military over the Gulf of Sidra.

Anti-Khaddafi Revolt (1996) -Military revolt in eastern Libya, led by Khalifa Hifter. The revolt failed.

Libyan War 2011 (2011)-February 15, 2011--Protests against the Libyan government began, leading to an open revolt agains Khaddafi's rule. As the rebels grew stronger and gained more territory, the revolt became a civil war. NATO intervened on the side of the rebels in March, 2011, which helped the rebels take Tripoli. Khadaffi was killed in the war. Also, General Khalifa Haftar had returned from his exile in America and was a leading officer on the rebel side.

Foreign Intervention Began: March 19, 2011

Libyan Revolution Timeline


Second Libyan Civil War (2014-Present)-The Government of National Accord (GNA) battles against various factions and militias, including the Islamic State. The U.S. and allied nations joined the war officially in August, 2016 to fight ISIS in the city of Sirte. 

The Western Offensive of 2019 began in April, 2019 as the forces of General Khalifa Haftar seized parts of southeastern Libya and then began an offensive ot take control of Tripoli from the GNA government. The GNA is supported by the United Nations, but Haftar's side is aided by Egypt, France, the UAE, and, to a certain extent, by Russia.


1. Kohn, George C. Dictionary of Wars. New York: Facts On File Publications. 1999.

2. Dupuy, R. Ernest and Trevor N. Dupey. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 B.C. to the Present New York, New York: Harper & Row. 1993.

3. World's Largest Sandbox-New York Times. 11.07.2011

Copyright © 1998-2019 History Guy Media; Last Modified: 04.11.19
"The History Guy" is a Registered Trademark.
Contact the webmaster