Libya: Army Controls Militias’ Camps Near Tripoli

North Africa

Libyan National Army (LNA) controls key camps near the Libyan capital, Tripoli, after violent clashes and fierce battles.

The head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Gen. Khalifa Haftar, is in a race against time to liberate the capital, Tripoli, while the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarrai accuses him of recruiting children in battles.

International parties are calling on Haftar to end the battles amidst a European division, while the UN Security Council declined to discuss the military situation in Tripoli during its session on Tuesday.

A number of Libya’s members of the House of Representatives preceded the session by issuing a statement affirming their support for the army’s operation to “liberate Tripoli.”

Speaker of House of Representatives Aguila Saleh said in a letter addressed to the Security Council President, Christoph Heusgen, that the army is fulfilling its national duty to liberate the capital from “the grip of terrorism.”

Haftar met at his headquarters in al-Rajma outside Benghazi, east of the country, a number of members of the House of Representatives who supported the operations of the Libyan army, his office announced in a brief statement.

He reinforced his forces in the western region and appointed Major General Al-Mabrouk al-Ghazawi as assistant to the commander of the western operations, Major General Abdul Salam al-Hassi.

Head of the interim government loyal to the army and parliament, in eastern Libya, Abdullah al-Thani said the army’s advancement towards Tripoli was aimed at purging the country of groups that “have been creating corruption in the past years since 2014.”

He called on the international community to honestly and realistically consider that these forces are fighting armed militias and extremist groups, which threaten the Libyan people and the international community as a whole.

The foreign ministry of the interim government called on the Libyan diplomatic missions to notify their countries that the interim government headed by Abdullah al-Thani is the only legitimate recognized government.

Meanwhile, deputy prime minister of GNA Ahmed Maiteeq asserted that the government is working to thwart the attack of the army.

Minister of State Mark Field indicated he was worried by the military escalation in Libya which led to an increase in the number of casualties and postponement of the national conference.

“All Libyan parties need urgently to pursue de-escalation to avoid further miscalculation and to recommit unashamedly to the UN-led initiative and political process. There is still time to prevent further violence and to find a political solution.”

However, the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani acknowledged that France and Italy are divided over policy towards Libya despite the official position of EU unity stated by the bloc’s foreign policy chief.

Meanwhile, army’s media division urged residents of Tripoli to stay away from windows in the areas of clashes and exercise utmost caution and safety.

The warning came after Saiqa Special Forces, led by Major General Wanis Bukhamada, participated for the first time in battles, and the army announced that it began carrying out its tasks, without giving further details.

The National Army forces took control of the headquarters of the Fourth Brigade after fierce battles and violent clashes in the area surrounding the camp near Tripoli, as described by the media division.

In other news, spokesman for the Central Security Agency of Sarraj announced that his forces, along with the “Protection of Tripoli” force, continue to control Tripoli International Airport and its surrounding area.

Commander of the Central Operations Room, Brigadier General Ahmed Abu Shamma, announced that his forces maintained all their positions, including the airport.

The German agency quoted a GNA spokesman in Tripoli as saying that they repelled an offensive launched by the opposing forces and compelling them to retreat in many locations south of Tripoli.

Image: AFP

Article: Asharq al-Awsat