Haftar's forces 'violate ceasefire' minutes after it takes effect

Haftar's forces 'violate ceasefire' minutes after it takes effect
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) reported forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar had violated the ceasefire minutes after in had gone into effect on Sunday midnight.
3 min read
12 January, 2020
Fighting has intensified in recent weeks. Last week, Haftar's forces took Sirte, Gadhafi's hometown [Getty]
Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) on Sunday recorded "violations" of a jointly-brokered Russian and Turkish ceasefire only minutes after it was supposed to take effect, local sources reported.

The media wing of the embattled government in Tripoli reported that millitia loyal to the rogue general Khalifa Haftar targetted GNA positions near the Libyan capital in a spate of random mortar attacks, according to Aljazeera

The GNA, who reported the violations occuring in the Salah ad-Din and Wadi al-Rabea areas around Tripoli, warned than that government would "respond violently" to any further act of agression. 

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), for their part, levelled parallel accusations at their opponent.

Al-Mabrouk Al-Ghazwi, commander of the LNA's offensive in Tripoli, told Aljazeera that "militia fighters" had broken the truce at various fronts, using a "all kinds" of weaponry.

The internationally-recognised GNA had agreed to a ceasefire, following calls from Russia and Turkey, hours after a similar announcement by millitia loyal the Libyan warlord.

Fayez Sarraj, the Prime Minister of the Tripoli-based GNA, declared that effective as of midnight on Sunday, while emphasising that his troops reserved the right to "self-defence against any attack of act of agression initiated by the opposing side" .

Late on Saturday, Haftar's LNA announced their ceasefire, while adding that any violation would be met with a "harsh response". 

The apparent ceasefire had been proposed after intense diplomatic efforts from Moscow and Ankara, who have both played an increasingly prominent role in Libya in recent weeks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladmir Putin released a joint statement following a meeting in Istandbul early this week, calling for a truce, without specifying conditions.

Withdrawal off the table

The warring authorities in Libya offer conflicting stipulations as a precondition to end the fighting. 

Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj has previously demanded that Haftar's forces retreat from the capital's outskirts and halt their offensive. 

Haftar and his allies, meanwhile, have called for the dissolution of militias fighting for the GNA.

Brig. Gen Khaled al-Mahjoub, a senior commander in the LNA, downplayed the possibility of any retreat from areas captured by his troops in an interview with Associated Press.

"Withdrawal is not on the table," Mahjoub said. The group's fighters, he added, would remain on guard in their positions and were ready to meet any breach "with force".

The east-based LNA launched their fresh offensive to take the capital in April, sparking international efforts to contain the crisis in the North African nation.

Recent weeks have since a significant escalation of fighting around Tripoli, as well LNA's crucial advance into Sirte, a strategically important city located midway along the country's mediterrenean coastline. 

Read more: Haftar's Libya forces take Gaddafi hometown, as Turkey rushes in troops to support Tripoli government

Haftar's forces held back from endorsing the latest Russian Turkish-brokered truce, until the late-night announcement on Saturday.

A UN peacekeeping mission welcomed the agreement.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya said in a statement that it hoped all parties would demonstrate "complete adherence" to the terms of agreement and work to end the violence. 

The faltering ceasefire comes as Libya faces a monumental crisis, with foreign backers of the rival Libyan authorties ractcheting up their involvment in the nation's conflict. 

The LNA, backed by Haftar's forces, is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia.

The Tripoli-based GNA recieves aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy, with Turkey deploying troops to the country for the first time, last week.

The fighting threatens to plunge Libya into unspeakable chaos, which could rival the 2011 conflict that resulted in the ousting and killing of former dictator Muammar Gadhafi. 
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