Troops of East Libyan strongman Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced on Thursday evening January 9 that they intended to continue their offensive against forces of the government of national unity (GNA), recognized by the UN and in power in Tripoli. They seem to reject the call for a cease-fire launched the day before by the Russian and Turkish presidents, although Marshal Haftar welcomed the call.
In a statement read by his spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari, the strongman of eastern Libya estimated that the stability or the revival of the political process in Libya could not be achieved before "the eradication of terrorist groups", the dissolution and disarmament of the militias which, according to him, control the Libyan capital.
Turkish Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called for the establishment of a truce in Libya from January 12 at midnight during a meeting in Istanbul, also urging the belligerents to sit at the table negotiations to achieve peace.
Khalifa Haftar, supported in particular by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, has been waging an attack since the beginning of April to seize the Libyan capital, headquarters of the FNA al-Fayez al-Sarraj. The GNA for its part welcomed the call for a truce on Wednesday evening without, however, indicating whether it would comply with it.
"Conditions Must Be Fulfilled" Before Any Ceasefire Says Haftar
Despite their common call for a ceasefire, the interests of Ankara and Moscow diverge in Libya. Russia is accused of supporting Marshal Haftar, in particular by sending him hundreds of mercenaries. Turkey has announced the dispatch of troops to Libya in support of the GNA.
In his statement, Marshal Haftar still "welcomed" the initiative of President Vladimir Putin ", while announcing the continuation of" the efforts of the armed forces in its war against the terrorist groups ".
An adviser to Marshal Haftar, told AFP that this was not a rejection of the initiative, but rather "conditions that must be met", above all cease-fire.
The statement said that "terrorist groups" have seized the capital and are receiving support from certain countries and governments which are supplying them with military equipment, ammunition [...] and drones ".
"These countries also send many terrorists from all over the world to fight the [pro-Haftar] armed forces," he added, presumably referring to the dispatch of Turkish troops to support the GNA forces. He also accuses Ankara of sending pro-Turkish Syrian fighters to fight in Libya.
Long pushed back at the gates of Tripoli, the forces of Marshal Haftar have made gains in recent weeks thanks to an intensification of their operations and have taken control on Monday January 6, of the coastal city of Sirte, some 370 km south -is the capital.
With AFP and Reuters
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