Eastern Libya parliament head says LNA forces will push Tripoli campaign

Libyan National Army (LNA) members, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, pose for a picture as they head out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, Libya April 7, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 13 April 2019

Eastern Libya parliament head says LNA forces will push Tripoli campaign

  • The European Union last week urged the eastern Libya National Army (LNA) to stop its attacks
  • Haftar, 75, moved his troops out of their eastern stronghold to take the oil-rich desert south earlier this year, before sweeping up to Tripoli at the start of April

BENGHAZI: Eastern Libyan forces will pursue their advance on the capital Tripoli, the head of the eastern parliament in the divided country said on Saturday, despite international calls for a halt in an offensive that risks causing many civilian casualties.
His comments came as more clashes rocked the southern outskirts of Tripoli, where eastern forces have been confronted by groups allied to Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj’s internationally recognized government.
The European Union last week urged the eastern Libya National Army (LNA) to stop its attacks, having agreed on a statement after France and Italy sparred over how to handle the conflict.
But the eastern parliament head said they would press an offensive launched a week ago under military commander Khalifa Haftar, the latest outbreak of a cycle of conflict since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.
“We need to get rid of militias and terrorist groups,” Aguila Saleh, head of the House of Representatives allied to Haftar, said using a reference eastern officials often make to describe forces allied to the Tripoli government, which relies on support from several armed groups.
“We assure the residents of Tripoli that the campaign to liberate Tripoli will be limited and not violate any freedoms but restore security and fight terrorism,” Saleh told lawmakers in a session in the main eastern city of Benghazi.
Forces loyal to Al-Serraj’s government have so far kept the eastern offensive at bay. Fierce fighting has broken out around a disused former airport about 11 km (7 miles) from the center and an eastern military source said a warplane belonging to the LNA had struck a military camp in an eastern Tripoli suburb.
Saleh also said the United Nations mission to Libya and Serraj’s government had been controlled by armed groups and had failed to expel them from the capital, and promised Libya would hold long-delayed elections after the Tripoli operation ends.
Haftar’s offensive had surprised the United Nations, which had been planning to hold a national conference on April 14 to prepare Libya for elections.
The latest battle had by Friday killed 75 people, mainly fighters but including 17 civilians, and wounded another 323, according to UN tallies. Some 13,625 people have been forced out of their homes.
As well as the humanitarian cost, the conflict threatens to disrupt oil supplies, boost migration to Europe, scupper a UN peace plan, and allow militants to exploit the chaos.
Haftar, 75, a former general in Qaddafi’s army who later joined the revolt against him, moved his troops out of their eastern stronghold to take the oil-rich desert south earlier this year, before sweeping up to Tripoli at the start of April.


German frigate and 250 soldiers join EU mission to enforce Libya arms embargo

Updated 43 min 58 sec ago

German frigate and 250 soldiers join EU mission to enforce Libya arms embargo

  • The frigate left from the port of Wilhelmshaven to start an EU five-month mission
  • The mission aims to enforce the embargo, collect data on illegal oil exports, and tackle migrant crisis

CAIRO: A German navy frigate carrying 250 soldiers headed to the Mediterranean on Tuesday to join an EU mission aimed at enforcing a UN arms embargo on Libya. 
The frigate left from the port of Wilhelmshaven to start a five-month mission tasked with preventing the flow of weapons into war-torn Libya.
The EU mission Operation Irini, launched in May, was hampered by escalating fighting across the country, which saw Turkey intervene in recent months. 
The mission aims to enforce the embargo, collect data on Libya’s illegal oil exports as well as its migrant smuggling crisis.  
The crew members are set to return on Dec. 20, DPA, an international German news agency reported. They may not land until the mentioned date due to coronavirus fears, the report added. 
Turkey has been accused of exacerbating the war in Libya, providing drones, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help Libya’s government based in the capital, Tripoli.
That administration, which is backed by an array of militias, has been fighting the forces of commander Khalifa Haftar, who is loyal to a rival administration in the east of the country.
Libya has been torn by violence since long-time ruler Muammar Qaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.