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21 Feb, 2020 07:08

Withdrawal of mercenaries and Turkish troops from Libya is a condition for end of hostilities – General Haftar

Withdrawal of mercenaries and Turkish troops from Libya is a condition for end of hostilities – General Haftar

Ankara and Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) have used the truce to deploy fresh troops and mercenaries from Syria, Libyan National Army Commander Khalifa Haftar said in an interview.

Haftar told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency that his forces will halt their advance towards Tripoli if Turkish troops and mercenaries leave Libya. The Libyan National Army has been closing in on the city, which is controlled by UN-backed GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj.

Ankara and allied GNA have been deploying reinforcements to Tripoli during the ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey, Haftar said.

The temporary truce is being used by Turkey and the al-Sarraj government to send large numbers of Syrian mercenaries, Turkish soldiers, terrorists and arms to Tripoli by sea and air. It is a violation of the truce. We reserve the right to react to these violations.

Haftar held talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in Moscow earlier this week. He told reporters that all sides must respect the ceasefire, which was affirmed during a peace conference in Berlin last month.

The LNA commander stated that his “patience is wearing thin” regarding ceasefire violations by the GNA and Turkey, and his forces are ready “for all options.”

“If the [UN-backed] talks in Geneva fail to reach peace and security for our country, if the mercenaries don’t return to where they came from, the armed forces will fulfill their constitutional duties… in defense against the Turkish invaders,” Haftar said.

Turkey, meanwhile, has been accusing Haftar of violating the ceasefire. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who recently met with al-Sarraj, reiterated the country’s utmost support for the GNA to take full control of Libya if necessary.

The beleaguered peace process was impeded this week when Haftar’s forces shelled port facilities in Tripoli and a cargo ship which the LNA claimed was transporting weapons and ammunition from Turkey. The attack led the GNA to suspend its participation in the Geneva talks.

Also on rt.com Libyan General Haftar’s forces claim they've bombed Turkish ship ‘loaded with weapons & ammo’ at Tripoli port

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