Libyans Celebrate Liberation Of Tripoli From Khalifa Haftar
Libya’s UN-recognised government announced another victory in its counter-offensive against eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar, overrunning his last western stronghold Tarhuna, launchpad of an abortive 14-month assault on the capital.
The recapture of the strategic town southeast of the capital capped a week that already saw the Government of National Accord reestablish control over the whole of Greater Tripoli, including the abandoned civilian airport on its southern outskirts.
“Our fearless troops have extended their authority over the entirety of Tarhuna,” stated GNA spokesperson Mohamad Gnounou.
Tarhuna was the main rear base for the devastating offensive against the capital that Haftar’s forces finally gave up this week, abandoning their remaining positions in the southern suburbs to advancing government troops.
“Our fearless forces have full command of Greater Tripoli right up to the city boundaries,” Gnounou declared on Thursday.
“Our action will proceed and we are strong-minded to conquer the rival, impose state authority on the whole of the homeland and slay all those who imperil the development of a civil, democratic, and modern nation,” Sarraj announced after discussions with the GNA’s main military supporter Turkey.
Late Thursday, Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari confirmed his forces’ “redeployment” away from the capital after more than a year of sometimes intense fighting.
He said the redeployment was a “humanitarian indication meant to save the Libyan people more killing.”
Hundreds have been killed and 200,000 more driven from their homes since Haftar launched his assault, vowing to “cleanse” the capital of the “terrorist militias” he said dominated the GNA.- Ceasefire talks -Mesmari said the redeployment was intended to boost the work of an UN-backed military commission tasked with shoring up a nationwide ceasefire.
“We declare that we are redeploying our troops outside Tripoli on the situation that the other side regards the ceasefire,” he stated in a statement issued late Thursday.
The United Nations’ Libya mission said Tuesday that after a three-month suspension, the warring parties had agreed to resume ceasefire talks.
A military commission comprises of five GNA loyalists, and five Haftar delegates held discussions in February, but the dialogue was halted.
A January truce brokered by Turkey and key Haftar ally Russia has been repeatedly violated. Haftar is backed by neighboring Egypt and the UAE, as well as Russia.
His forces control the whole of eastern Libya, with its economically vital oilfields and export infrastructure. They also control most of the far-flung oasis cities of the vast desert south.
But they have suffered a string of defeats in recent months at the hands of GNA forces, which have been bolstered by significant Turkish military support.
This year, Haftar’s forces already lost a string of towns along the Mediterranean coast between the capital and the Tunisian border.
In April, UN experts said hundreds of mercenaries from Russian paramilitary organization the Wagner Group were fighting for him.
But last month, as Haftar’s losses rose, the GNA announced Wagner Group fighters had retreated from battle zones south of the capital.
Libya has survived years of brutality since the 2011 revolution that overthrew and executed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with opposing governments and numbers of militias battling for control.
The United Nations has pressed outside powers to uphold a deal reached at a January conference in Berlin, stopping external interference and supporting a much-violated arms prohibition.