Thursday, 23 January, 2020


Libyan commander orders forces to 'advance' on Tripoli

Members of forces loyal to Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar guard near Libya's El Sharara oilfield in Obari Libyan commander orders forces to 'advance' on Tripoli
Bennie Garza | 04 April, 2019, 20:40

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is in Tripoli trying to push an global peace deal, and was due to make a statement.

In recent years, Haftar, the chief of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), has expanded his foothold in large parts of Libya. Ban Ki-moon visited in October 2014.

A spokesman for the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar said on Thursday that troops have entered the city of Gharyan, 100 km south of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

Guterres, who is expected to hold a news conference in Tripoli later on Thursday, said on Twitter that he is "deeply concerned by the military movement taking place in Libya and the risk of confrontation".

The capture of Gharyan after skirmishes on Wednesday with forces allied to Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj followed a rapid thrust westwards by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) from his eastern stronghold of Benghazi.

"I am sipping coffee now in Gharyan", Hifter's top aide Abdel-Salam al-Hassi told The Associated Press over the phone.

He declined to comment on the force's upcoming steps.

The European Union's mission to Libya on Thursday also expressed concern over "the military buildup underway in Libya and the escalatory rhetoric which seriously risks leading to an uncontrollable confrontation". "I call for calm and restraint as I prepare to meet the Libyan leaders in the country".

Libya has been divided between the Western-backed government in Tripoli and a parallel administration allied to Haftar since Gaddafi's downfall.

"Many analysts and military experts in Libya say that this is some kind of show of force or power".

The eastern forces' operation, ordered by Haftar on Wednesday, is aimed at "cleansing the western zone from terrorist groups", the forces' media centre said in a statement.

Guterres arrived in Libya on Wednesday - the first United Nations chief to visit since the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

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