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Libya rivals yet to start withdrawing forces: UN envoy

AFP/NEW YORK
Filed on November 19, 2020
Stephanie Williams, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia, on Nov. 15, 2020.

(AP file)

October 23 deal says all military units and armed groups must withdraw from the frontlines while foreign fighters must leave within 90 days

Rival forces in Libya have failed to begin withdrawing as required under an October ceasefire agreement aimed at ending years of conflict following Muammar Gaddafi’s 2011 killing, a UN envoy said on Thursday.

Last month’s ceasefire formally ended fighting between forces of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and those of eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Following the ceasefire deal, recent developments on parallel economic and political tracks have raised hopes for progress in the North African country.

But Stephanie Williams, UN acting special envoy for Libya, told the United Nations Security Council that “while the joint military commission seeks to operationalise the ceasefire agreement, the two sides have not yet begun to withdraw their forces.”

The October 23 agreement says all military units and armed groups must withdraw from the frontlines while mercenaries and foreign fighters must leave Libyan territory within 90 days.

During the video conference, Britain, Germany, Belgium and France in particular called for the fulfilment of military commitments and the departure of foreign mercenaries.

Britain raised the possibility of sanctions for those who do not respect the October agreement.

Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli in April 2019 but was pushed back early this year as pro-GNA forces received crucial support from Turkey.

Tripoli is held by the GNA, while a parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk is backed by Haftar’s forces.

Libya has been wracked by conflict for nearly a decade, since the overthrow and killing of dictator Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

Since then, it has been dominated by armed groups, riven by local conflicts and divided between the two bitterly opposed adminstrations.

Williams said National Accord forces remained stationed at Abu Grein and Al Washkah “with patrolling activities reportedly taking place.”

“Military cargo flights were monitored at Al Watiya and Misrata airports,” she said.

Haftar’s forces “and auxiliaries continued to set up fortifications and military outposts equipped with air defence systems between Sirte and Al Jufra, and in the northern area of Al Jufra airbase.”

“Intense cargo aircraft activity was monitored between Benina airport, Al Jufra and Al Gardabiya airbase,” Williams said.





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