Libya’s Haftar, unity govt agree to UN-backed Eid truce

Militias allied with the Tripoli-based government have been fighting since April against a military offensive to take the capital. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 August 2019

Libya’s Haftar, unity govt agree to UN-backed Eid truce

  • The UN envoy for Libya had proposed a multi-day truce for the Eid holiday
  • Fighting for Tripoli has killed over 1,100 people, mostly combatants, and has displaced more than 100,000 civilians

TRIPOLI, BENGHAZI: Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces agreed on Saturday to a UN-backed humanitarian truce around Tripoli for the festival of Eid Al-Adha, after the unity government conditionally accepted a cease-fire.

But as the UN was trying to broker a truce in Tripoli, a car bomb explosion in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed two UN staff on Saturday, several medical sources said.
Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said earlier it was conditionally willing to accept a truce in fighting around the capital for the three-day holiday which starts on Sunday.
The UN had called on the GNA and Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) to commit to a humanitarian truce by midnight on Friday.
Haftar’s forces have been fighting since early April to seize Tripoli from the GNA.
The strongman’s spokesman Ahmad Al-Mesmari said on Saturday that his forces “announce a halt to all military operations ... in the suburbs of Tripoli.”
Mesmari said the truce had gone into effect at 3 p.m. on Sat

FASTFACT

As the UN was trying to broker a truce in Tripoli, a car bomb explosion in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed two UN staff on Saturday.

urday and would last until the same time on Monday afternoon.
The GNA had said late on Friday it was keen to “ease the suffering of the citizens and allow rescue workers to accomplish their mission” and would accept “a humanitarian truce for Eid Al-Adha.”
But it listed several conditions, saying the cease-fire must be observed “in all combat zones, with a cessation of direct and indirect fire and movement of troops.”
It also said the truce must include “a ban on flights and reconnaissance overflights” across the country’s entire airspace.
The GNA also called on the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to “ensure the implementation of the truce and note any breaches.”
UNSMIL had expressed “regret” earlier on Saturday that it had “not received any response” from Haftar’s forces following its call for a cease-fire, and urged all sides to respect the sanctity of the festival.
Haftar’s spokesman, talking from the eastern city of Benghazi, then announced the cease-fire “out of respect for this occasion’s place in our spirits ... so that Libyan citizens can celebrate this Eid in peace.”
UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian truces, without success.
In a video conference with the UN Security Council late last month, Salame warned against mounting tensions and called for a cease-fire for Eid Al-Adha.

Bomb explosion
Meanwhile, a Reuters reporter at a Benghazi hospital where casualties of the blast were taken saw a list of names of those killed identifying them as part of the UN Libya mission (UNSMIL).
Several medical and security officials at the hospital said two UN staff, one of them foreign, had been killed.
UNSMIL spokesman Jean El Alam said via email that the organization was “in the process of gathering information.”
The explosion happened in front of a shopping mall and bank. At least one burned out UN car could be seen at the scene.
Around the time of the blast, Haftar, announced a halt to military operations during the Eid Al-Adha holiday, which lasts from Saturday until Tuesday, according to a statement from his forces in Benghazi.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.