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Libyan military hopes for pullout of foreign forces by end of October — source

Mechanisms of pulling out all foreign forces and mercenaries ahead of the elections were discussed at the meeting in Tripoli

CAIRO, September 29. /TASS/. The members of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission have agreed on the need for the pullout of all foreign troops and mercenaries from the country by the end of October ahead of the December elections, a source in the command of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army told TASS on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, there was another meeting of the commission, consisting of five military representatives from the western and eastern regions each. The head of the US Africa Command, General Stephen Townsend, currently on a visit in Libya, met with them at the airbase at Mitiga airport.

"The meeting in Tripoli was fruitful and positive. Mechanisms of pulling out all foreign forces and mercenaries ahead of the elections were discussed," the source said. "The committee agreed that this process should be completed at the end of October."

The 5+5 commission will meet again at its headquarters in Sirte within days.

"They will discuss measures to maintain security at the elections after the laws crucial to holding them have been finalized," the source said.

Situation in Libya

Libya has for several years had two parallel bodies of executive power: the Fayez Sarraj-led Government of National Accord in Tripoli and the provisional Cabinet of Ministers in the east, enjoying support from parliament and the Libyan National Army. In April 2019, Haftar launched an offensive towards the country's main city. In response, the Cabinet of Ministers mobilized all forces under its control and addressed Turkey with an official request for help on the basis of the military cooperation memorandum. After that, with Ankara's active support, he managed to regain control of a number of provinces the LNA had taken.

The eastern authorities and the LNA have repeatedly accused Turkey of redeploying large batches of military equipment and groups of mercenaries from Syria to the Government of National Accord-controlled territories. Also, there were reports that the Turkish military had taken and re-equipped for its own needs the Libyan bases and trained and provided advice for the armed groups fighting on the Sarraj-led government's side and also commanded combat operations against Haftar's forces.

In February this year, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Switzerland elected a new prime minister of the Government of National Unity and three members of the Presidential Council. Both bodies of power were sworn in on March 15 and started performing their duties in Tripoli with the aim of consolidating fragmented bodies of power across the nation and also preparing for and holding presidential and parliamentary elections on December 24.