The Libyan Army has launched a new military campaign to combat General Khalifa Haftar’s assault on the capital Tripoli, dubbed “Volcano of Rage”.
Newly appointed spokesman for the Libyan Army Mohammed Gununu announced the move yesterday, stating that troops of the Government of National Accord (GNA) had already advanced on several fronts and captured many military vehicles from Haftar’s forces.
“The Libyan Army rejects coups and militarisation of the state. Libya will always be a civilian state and the army will protect it and secure the people,” Gununu said. “This attack is a surprising one that destroyed the Libyans’ hopes for democracy at a time when they were preparing for the upcoming national conference in Ghadames.”
Last week, General Haftar’s forces announced the start of an assault on areas in the west of the country, including Tripoli, despite warnings from the international community that the attack could plunge the country into active civil war.
In a televised interview this weekend, President Council head Fayez Al-Sarraj slammed the move, citing the arrangements he had made during previous meetings with Haftar, saying his opponent had “broken the covenant” and “tried to stab him in the back”.
“We have agreed on peace covenant. However, after the attack by Haftar’s forces, his declaration of war on our cities and capital, and thus his announcement of a coup against the political agreement, he will only face our strong and firm confrontation.”
He further added that the national conference scheduled for later this month constitutes the only path towards “a stable state to build a civil and democratic state.” The UN has confirmed that the summit will go ahead as planned despite the ongoing military operations.
“We are determined to hold the conference between the Libyan parties on the scheduled date between 14 and 16 April, unless compelling circumstances force us not to hold it,” UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé said.
In 2014, Libya split between rival camps with Haftar gradually emerging as the dominant figure in the east aligned with a regional parliament and government, and opposing the internationally recognised government in the western capital, Tripoli.
The controversial Libyan general has been backed by Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel, prompting growing outrage from Tripoli. On Friday, Libyan Brigadier General Mohammad Al-Qunidi, the government’s chief of the military intelligence, said that Haftar was attacking the capital with Egyptian, Emirati and Saudi arms.
“The three Arab countries support Haftar’s militias in order to create a new Sisi in Libya,” he said, referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
France has also controversially backed Haftar; yesterday, Al Jazeera quoted an unnamed source as saying that Al-Sarraj had officially asked the French ambassador to Libya to convey his protest to President Emmanuel Macron, stating that the bias contradicted previous efforts to support the country’s political transition.
US troops have been ordered by the Pentagon to evacuate the Libyan capital of Tripoli as fighting between the UN-backed government and Benghazi-based 'renegade' General Khalifa Haftar spilled into the streets leaving at least 21 dead and 27 injured. US Army's Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced the evacuation on Sunday "in response to the evolving security situation there."
The so-called international community led by the West once itself responsible for destabilizing Libya by toppling Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, is now urging Benghazi-based renegade General Khalifa Haftar to halt his ongoing assault on the country's capital.
Libya remains a fractured land ever since the NATO-backed militant uprising ousted strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. While British and French warplanes did most of the actual bombing, the US contribution was crucial to the war effort, with America providing things like intelligence gathering and air refueling.“We will continue to monitor conditions on the ground and assess the feasibility for renewed US military presence, as appropriate,” said Nate Herring, an AFRICOM spokesman.
Libya is back in the news as the so called Libyan National Army under General Hafter is moving to attack Tripoli. How did we get here?
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