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Tripoli-based government declares ceasefire under Russian-Turkish initiative

Military committees proposed by both sides should immediately start working on the measures guaranteeing ceasefire under the UN auspices
Head of Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj EPA-EFE/ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Head of Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj
© EPA-EFE/ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI

CAIRO, January 12. /TASS/. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Sarraj has declared ceasefire as part of an initiative proposed by Russia and Turkey, the cabinet said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

"In response to a call of Turkish and Russian Presidents Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, the head of the presidential council [who acts as the head of state, this body is led by al-Sarraj] and commander-in-chief of the Libyan Army declare ceasefire starting from January 12," the statement said.

The communique outlines a number of steps that that GNA plans to take in order to implement ceasefire. In particular, it declares that military committees proposed by both sides should immediately start working on the measures guaranteeing ceasefire under the UN auspices.

Al-Sarraj’s cabinet has also confirmed that it supports the course towards political settlement through the Berlin conference for arranging a nationwide meeting attended by all parties to the Libyan conflict. It also recalled that it has a legal right to protect itself, responding to any possible attack or aggression of the other party.

On Saturday, the Libyan National Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar also declared its agreement to stop combat actions. LNA Spokesman General Ahmed al-Mesmari announced a ceasefire from midnight on January 12 local time (01:00 Moscow time). He demanded that the opposite side back the ceasefire, vowing to give a harsh response in case of its refusal.

The presidents of Russia and Turkey called on all parties to the Libyan conflict to declare ceasefire starting from Sunday after their meeting in Istanbul on January 8.

Accusations of violating ceasefire

Shortly after the ceasefire declaration, the LNA accused the Tripoli cabinet’s forces of violating the deal claiming that they had carried out attacks in a number of areas using all types of weapons, including the artillery. According to Afrigatenews portal, fierce clashes were reported near oil fields close to the international airport and in Tripoli’s southern suburb. The command confirmed that despite these attacks it remained committed to the ceasefire.

The GNA's Volcano of Anger counteroffensive operation forces also accused Haftar’s troops of violating the ceasefire, Al Jazeera TV channel reported. They claimed that Haftar’s forces had opened indiscriminate mortar fire on Salah al-Din.

Libyan crisis

Currently, Libya has two supreme executive authorities, namely the internationally recognized Tripoli-based Government of National Accord headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the interim government of Abdullah al-Thani, seated in the east of the country, alongside the parliament, which is supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. On December 12, 2019, Haftar announced the launch of a win-the-war offensive against Tripoli, aiming to eradicate terrorist groups operating there.

On January 2, Turkey’s parliament approved a bill that would allow the government to send troops to Libya. This step sparked a wave of criticism across the region. On January 5, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the beginning of Turkish troops’ deployment to Libya. Erdogan pointed out that the force would be "tasked with carrying out coordination actions" and with "ensuring the security of [Libya's] legitimate government," but would not be involved in fighting.