GNA insists on Jufra, Sirte offensive as Libyan parliament authorises Egyptian military action

Bassem Aly , Tuesday 14 Jul 2020

FILE PHOTO: Troops loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government prepare themselves before heading to Sirte, in Tripoli, Libya, Libya July 6, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

The spokesman of Libya’s Government of National Accord has said its troops will move forward towards establishing control over Sirte and Jufra, which hosts Libya's largest air base.

"The time has come for oil to flow once again and to beat the hands messing with the Libyans' troops," Mohamed Kanono said on Tuesday, stressing that "we will move forward towards our kidnapped cities, to extend state authority over the entire soil."

This announcement came after a resolution was passed on Monday by the Libyan parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk which authorises an Egyptian military intervention if needed. The aim of this step is to protect Libya's "national security" amid the ongoing "Turkish occupation," read the resolution. 

On Twitter, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash warned against the "dangerous political and humanitarian implications" of the "war drums being beaten in Sirte."

Gargash called for an immediate ceasefire, "reliance on wisdom" and "involvement in a dialogue among the Libyan parties within clear international references." 

Vladimir Gubarev, deputy head of the international affairs committee at the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's Federal Assembly, said the Egyptian military's intervention in the Libyan conflict could help in "restoring the Libyan state." 

"Of course there is a need for holding negotiations to settle the conflict, but if the Egyptian military helped in restoring the Libyan state, this will be a good thing," Russia Today quoted Gubarev as saying on Tuesday. 

He noted that Egypt is "clearly concerned about the destabilised situation in Libya." 

In June, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Libyan parties “to respect the current lines and start negotiations.”

El-Sisi said that Sirte and Jufra are "considered a red line for Egyptian national security." 

He also said that Egypt has called for a comprehensive settlement in Libya that involves the elimination of terrorist militias and has participated in Libya-related international conferences and supported crisis-resolution efforts. 

A Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman told Sky News Arabia last week that he expects a "Turkish attack at any time."

Ahmed Al-Mesmari stated that the LNA "will do everything needed to deter any aggression."

"We have evidence that Turkey is moving towards a decisive battle, which is the Sirte-Jufra battle. There are no indicators on the other side that [Turkey] will accept a ceasefire and go into negotiations," Al-Mesmari asserted.

He said that the Libyan army is only conducting "defensive operations to prevent manoeuvres and advancement by the enemy towards our (the LNA) positions."

Al-Mesmari explained that the LNA will declare a ceasefire if other parties to the conflict show commitment to peace, stop sending terrorists to Libya and end the presence of “invaders," referring to Turkey.

He emphasised that the LNA wants a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

The Tripoli-based GNA is backed by Turkish troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries in its war against the LNA and its leader Khalifa Haftar. Haftar is backed by Egypt, the UAE and Russia. 

The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel-Rahman, told Sky News Arabia on Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had begun transferring non-Syrian mercenaries, in addition to Syrians, to Libya, despite international condemnations and warnings.

Abdel-Rahman said that those mercenaries were located in areas under “Turkish occupation” in Syria. Turkey informed its mercenaries that their next battle will be in Sirte, said Abdel-Rahman, adding that they had been transferred to Libya by air.

Turkish warships transferred other groups of mercenaries to Libya, revealed Abdel-Rahman. According to Sky News Arabia report, the number of Syrian mercenaries in Libya had reached 16,000, although about 5,600 of them returned to Syria. 

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