Libya's GNA suspends ceasefire talks as Haftar forces attack Tripoli port

Libya's GNA suspends ceasefire talks as Haftar forces attack Tripoli port
A missile attack targeting a Turkish ship in the port of Tripoli prompted Libya's internationally-recognised government to suspend ceasefire talks on Tuesday.
3 min read
19 February, 2020
Haftar's forces launched four missiles at the port, Libya's government said[Twitter]
Libya’s internationally-recognised government suspended ceasefire talks hosted by the United Nations in Geneva after an attack on Tripoli port on Tuesday, the presidential council of the government announced in a statement.

The announcement came just moments after four missiles launched by the Libya National Army (LNA), which controls the east of the country, struck the port of Tripoli on Tuesday, prompting a disruption to fuel deliveries.

The LNA, which is commanded by rogue military commander Khalifa Haftar, said it was targeting a Turkish ship which it alleged was delivering arms to the internationally-recognised Tripoli-based government. 

The missile landed just metres away “from a highly explosive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker discharging in the port”, Libya’s national oil company said, noting it had ordered all fuel tankers to leave the harbour.

“Today’s attack on Tripoli port could have led to a humanitarian and environmental disaster,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said.

Read more: Turkish vessel 'spotted escorting military shipment' to Libya in defiance of UN embargo

“The city does not have operational fuel storage facilities ... the consequences will be immediate; hospitals, schools, power stations and other vital services will be disrupted,” he said.

Authorities vowed to respond firmly to the attack in appropriate timing, the government statement added, according to Reuters.

Turkey backs the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) which has been fighting an offensive launched by fighters loyal to militia commander Khalifa Haftar, who controls three-quarters of Libyan territory.

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Turkey's parliament last month approved a bill approving a military deployment to Libya to shore up the government but Ankara insists the numbers of Turkish troops are small and that they are only there to train Libyan forces.

Last month, France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier spotted a Turkish frigate escorting a cargo ship delivering armoured vehicles to the Libyan capital Tripoli in defiance of a UN embargo, a French military source said.

The cargo ship Bana docked in Tripoli port on Wednesday, said the source, who asked not to be named.

The UN Security Council has since February 2011 imposed an arms embargo on Libya, relating to the supply of arms and military equipment to and from the country.

In a conflict which has split regional powers, Turkey's main regional ally Qatar also supports the GNA but the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, staunch foes of Erdogan's Turkey, back pro-Haftar forces.

Russia, which has worked closely with Turkey on efforts to end the Syria conflict, is also seen as backing Haftar but denies funding Russian mercenaries on the ground.

On Monday, EU countries agreed to a naval force to enact an arms embargo on Libya.

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