Libya fighting breaks out as Haftar walks out of ceasefire signing in Moscow

Libya fighting breaks out as Haftar walks out of ceasefire signing in Moscow
Khalifa Haftar was due to sign a peace deal with the UN-recognised government.
3 min read
14 January, 2020
Haftar was in Russia for the talks [Getty]
Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar has walked away from a ceasefire agreement in Moscow with the UN-recognised government, according to media reports late Sunday.

Haftar was in Moscow with leaders of a rival government based in Tobruk and was set to sign a Russian-brokered peace deal with the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.

Haftar, who heads the self-described Libyan National Army (LNA), said that the ceasefire agreement - which was revealed by The New Arab's Arabic-language service on Monday - did not address his concerns and so walked out of the meeting.

"The draft [agreement] ignores many of the Libyan army's demands," he said, according to Al Arabiya.

Haftar had demanded his fighters enter the capital Tripoli - which is controlled by the GNA and under siege by the LNA - and to form a unity government.

He also wanted "[mercenaries] who arrived from Syria and Turkey" to withdraw from Libya, referring to Turkish troops who arrived in Tripoli over the past month to train GNA troops.

The Libyan News Agency (LANA), which is affiliated to the Haftar-linked administration in the east, also reported on the militia leader's walk-out.

"The speaker of the House of Representatives and the commander-in-chief of the Libyan Arab armed forces left the Russian capital of Moscow and departed for Libya, without signing any agreements with the head of the unconstitutional [GNA]... regarding ceasefire or troop pullback from areas controlled by the army in the country’s capital Tripoli," LANA reported.

Sarraj wanted Haftar's troops to withdraw to 4 April battle-lines, before the LNA launched an offensive on the capital Tripoli.

Local media reported clashes in the southern Tripoli suburbs between government forces and the LNA militias as news of Haftar's walk-out emerged.

Russia, UAE and Egypt have backed Haftar during the war, while the UN-recognised GNA is supported by Turkey and Qatar.

The EU have made several attempts to broker a ceasefire between Libya's rival factions, a country which has been in a state of war since the outbreak of protests against dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Moscow's latest attempt preceded a planned conference in Berlin, which is now in jeapordy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the push for peace will continue.

"We will pursue our efforts in this direction. For now, a definitive result has not been achieved," Lavrov said at a press conference in Sri Lanka, according to AFP.

He said Russia, European powers and Libya's neighbours "are working in the same vein and motivating all Libyan sides to agree rather than continue sorting things out by force".

Algeria has also hosted talks on the crisis in Libya.

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