Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar received on Sunday Egypt’s backing for his operation to liberate Tripoli from terrorist groups after he held talks in Cairo with President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
His surprise visit to Cairo coincided with Government of National Accord (GNA) head Fayez al-Sarraj visiting the operations command center in Tripoli.
Haftar and Sisi discussed the latest developments in Libya, with Egypt voicing its support for the unity, stability and security of Libya.
Presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said that Sisi stressed to Haftar Cairo’s support for efforts to combat terrorism, gangs and extremist militias in order to achieve the security and stability of the Libyan people throughout their country.
Haftar’s office issued a brief statement, saying that he discussed with Sisi “several issues of joint interest, particularly counter-terrorism.”
In Tripoli, Sarraj held talks at the operations command center with his military commanders on the “assault on the capital.” He said that the attack “serves as an opportunity that has been awaited by the terrorists and extremists to meddle with Libya’s security and stability.”
“We were hoping to meet today at a national conference that brings together Libyans at a dialogue table to discuss ways to end the crisis, but one party insists on embroiling the country in a war where no side will emerge victorious,” he added.
“We always call for peace and we have always sought dialogue and consensus, but we are ready to defend our nation, people, capital and all of our cities,” he stressed.
The United Nations had planned to hold a national conference for Libya on April 14-16, but the LNA’s operation and ensuing unrest forced it to postpone it.
A GNA spokesman, Mohannad Younes said that Sarraj’s government will not accept a ceasefire in wake of the ongoing LNA attack on Tripoli.
A ceasefire is possible when the forces return to their bases, he added.
Younes replaced Mohammed al-Sallak, who quit his post without offering an official explanation.
Younes revealed that the GNA was documenting the ongoing violations of international law by LNA forces in order to take legal measures against them.
His remarks coincided with a warning by the UN mission in Libya against the bombing of schools, hospitals, ambulances and civilians areas, which is “strictly prohibited by International Humanitarian Law.”
“The mission is monitoring and documenting all acts of war that violate this law in order to brief the Security Council and the International Criminal Court,” it tweeted.
Meanwhile, the GNA’s Interior Ministry said that its counter-terrorism and organized crime unit arrested ISIS terrorist Anas Abrik al-Mabrouk al-Zouki, known as Abu Abdullah al-Dernawi. Investigations with him revealed that he was in Tripoli to carry out terrorist operations. He had resided in the eastern city of Benghazi for two years before departing it in 2017.
On the ground, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari announced that terrorist militia jets targeted on Saturday civilian homes and private and public property in Ain Zara in the eastern Tripoli suburbs.
He charged that the planes took off from the capital’s Mitiga airport and targeted a position in Qasr bin Ghashir, leaving four Sudanese nationals dead.
GNA officials meanwhile, said that an LNA jet was shot down over the Wadi al-Rabih region south of Tripoli, with social media users circulating photos of the pilot ejecting out of the aircraft before it crashed.
The LNA confirmed the incident, adding that the pilot survived, but denied that he was arrested by pro-GNA forces.