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Haftar’s forces advance in western Libya with the truce faltering

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The commander of eastern Libya (the Libyan National Army) Khalifa Haftar sought on Sunday to open a new front by moving his forces toward the internationally recognized city of Misrata, which is aligned with the government, officials and residents said.

In another sign of the fragility of a fragile truce between the two sides, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya said that two rockets landed on the Maitika airport in Tripoli, wounding two civilians and damaged the runway and buildings.

The mission did not hold any party responsible for this attack, the second in a matter of days. The airport is used to launch combat fighter planes provided by Turkey to counter the drones used by the Libyan National Army and sent by the Emirates.

The escalation comes a week after the UAE, Egypt and Russia, which support Haftar, and Turkey, which supports the government in Tripoli, with Western countries in Berlin agree to seek a permanent armistice and commitment to the existing arms embargo.

Despite the peace efforts, the Libyan National Army began to move from the central city of Sirte towards Misurata.

Both sides confirmed that the fighting between the Libyan National Army and Misurata forces was concentrated in the town of Abu Qurain, 120 km east of Misurata.

A source in the National Army said that two fighters from the army were killed and eight others were wounded, adding that his forces later retreated with prisoners.

“All axes are witnessing battles,” Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the Libyan National Army, told reporters in the city of Benghazi, blaming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for having issued orders to send forces to defend Tripoli.

In April, Haftar launched an attack on Tripoli with limited gains with the help of Russian and African mercenaries.

Erdogan said that Haftar cannot be trusted. Haftar left talks in Moscow this month aimed at a ceasefire, and stopped working at oil fields during the Berlin summit.

Erdogan said during his visit to Algeria that Libya “should not be allowed to turn into an arena for terrorist organizations and warlords”.

In statements made before he went to Algeria, Erdogan said that Haftar’s forces had repeatedly violated the ceasefire, adding that Haftar “continues attacks with all the resources at its disposal. But it will not work here.”

Libya has not had stable central authority since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011 in an uprising supported by NATO. There have been two competing governments in Libya, one in the east and the other in the west for more than five years. As for effective control over the land, it belongs to armed groups.

In Berlin, foreign powers agreed to form a special committee composed of five military officials from both sides of the conflict to reinforce the fragile truce.

Military officials are due to meet for the first time in Geneva this week.

On Saturday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya reported that many transport planes carrying advanced weapons, vehicles and fighters from countries that participated in the summit arrive in eastern and western Libya.

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