The Libyan army on Saturday said there was a military build-up around the northern province of Sirte and central Jufra as well as southern regions of forces loyal to Putist general Khalifa Haftar.
Abdulhadi Dirah, a spokesman for the Libyan army’s Sirte-Jufra Joint Operations Unit, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that a Russian cargo plane landed at Sirte’s Qardabiya Air Base on Saturday morning. The army further decided that 23 armored vehicles and two trucks loaded with ammunition were on their way to the south of the country from Jufra.
Dirah stressed that this deployment showed that Haftar’s forces continued to wage war and give Haftar power over the country.
Forces loyal to the UN-recognized Tripartite Government (GNA) based in Tripoli and its rival, Haftar, formally agreed to a ceasefire in October. The deal included the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya within three months, following Haftar’s failed offensive against the capital, which was launched in April 2019.
Following the ceasefire agreement, competing parties agreed to work on a mechanism to elect a transitional government that would lead the conflict-affected country to national elections next year.
However, Libyan Defense Minister Salahuddin al-Namroush expressed serious doubts that elections could be held in December 2021, as agreed during the recent UN-led Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF). Speaking to France 24 on Friday, he also ruled out the possibility that Haftar would have a role in a future political agreement and stressed that he is a war criminal and should be in prison.
Namroush said the Tripoli-based internationally recognized government was ready to engage in talks with the other side, to create a political solution “on the condition that Haftar will be ousted once and for all.”
The Libyan minister said the government would withdraw from a ceasefire agreement and the 5 + 5 Joint Military Committee on Haftar continued its violations of the deal.
The Joint 5 + 5 Military Committee was formed in February from both warring Libyan parties, which resulted in a ceasefire agreement in October during UN mediation.
Last week, the Libyan government accused Haftar of violating the ceasefire by launching an attack on a military camp in the southern city of Awbari.
Namrough also described France’s years of support for the warlord as a “shame” and added that he hoped the situation would change.
Turkey, strategic partner
Speaking about Libya’s relations with Turkey and France’s criticism of Ankara’s presence in the country, Namroush emphasized that Turkey is a strategic partner of GNA. Turkey is clear and open while Haftar implements secret agreements and agreements with its foreign supporters, the Minister of Defense pointed out.
While Haftar has mainly received support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), France, Egypt and Russia; Turkey and Qatar have been GNA’s main supporters. Italy also signed an agreement with GNA last week to cooperate in defense education, health care and demining activities.
“We agreed with Italy to cooperate in the areas of military training, exchange of experience, support, development, maintenance and consultancy,” al-Namroush said in a statement following the signing ceremony in the Italian capital Rome.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) continues to provide military training, humanitarian aid and advice to the Libyan army under a similar memorandum of understanding between Turkey and Libya signed in November 2019.
“Our military training, mine clearance and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), health advice, humanitarian aid continue under international law and the bilateral agreements we signed with the UN-recognized legitimate government,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Sunday in a statement. written statement.
MoU covers technical information, support, development, maintenance, repair, planning and material support, training and consulting services regarding the use of weapon systems and equipment.