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LNA Nears Tripoli Center as Salame Resolves 'Misunderstanding' with Haftar

LNA Nears Tripoli Center as Salame Resolves 'Misunderstanding' with Haftar

Wednesday, 29 May, 2019 - 06:30
LNA members get ready before heading out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, Libya April 13, 2019. (Reuters)

The Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Hafar, continued its offensive to push the forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) to abandon their fortifications in southern Tripoli.

A spokesman, Khaled al-Mahjoub, said that the operations against the pro-GNA militias are advancing smoothly and according to plan, predicting that the groups could collapse at any moment.

He reiterated Haftar’s amnesty proposal to the militias in return for them to lay down their arms and surrender.

He also called on local and international rights groups to register the Tripoli authorities’ arrest of hundreds of LNA supporters in the capital.

The LNA had on Monday launched a broader offensive in Tripoli’s eastern and southern suburbs and was nearing the city center.

One LNA official said the forces were a few kilometers from the center.

Meanwhile, GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj made a surprise visit to Malta for talks with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. He stressed that the GNA was determined to continue resisting the LNA assault.

A Libyan resident of Malta heckled Sarraj as he departed one of his meetings in the island nation.

He accused Sarraj of supporting extremist and outlawed groups.

Ossama Abou Zalqam, a Tripoli native, boasted of his support to the LNA. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was briefly detained by police for shouting in a public square and heckling a presidential convoy.

He added: “Sarraj is not a Libyan official, but he has usurped power and looted the country’s wealth.”

“The militias are protecting Sarraj, even beyond Libya’s borders,” he remarked.

Separately, UN special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said that channels of communication between him and Haftar were still open despite the LNA leader’s recent sharp criticism against him.

Haftar had accused Salame of being biased in tackling the Libyan crisis and of seeking to partition the North African nation.

Salame told France 24 that a misunderstanding had occurred and the dispute has since been resolved. He revealed that Haftar had requested that he continue his mediation, adding that he has never considered quitting his post.

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