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US Asks Haftar to Stop Tripoli Operation, Warns against Russian Meddling

US Asks Haftar to Stop Tripoli Operation, Warns against Russian Meddling

Saturday, 16 November, 2019 - 06:00
Smoke rises above buildings after heavy fighting between rival militias broke out near the airport in Tripoli July 23, 2014. (Reuters)

The United States called on Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar to stop his offensive on Tripoli held by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and warned against Russian interference.

“The United States calls on the Libyan National Army to end its offensive on Tripoli,” the US State Department said in statement late on Thursday after a visit to Washington by GNA Foreign Minister Mohammed Siala and Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga.

Discussions focused on security affairs.

MP Faraj al-Shalawi dismissed the American, saying it was “humoring” the GNA delegation.

“The decision to stop the war does not lie in the hands of the US or any other country,” he stressed.

“The LNA has been preparing for a crushing and final attack against all battle fronts” in Tripoli, he revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The US knows very well that the LNA is combating armed militias and the remnants of terrorist groups that were active in Syria,” he went on to say.

“Haftar is not affiliated with the US or any other foreign power,” he declared.

Washington also expressed concern over Russia’s meddling in Libyan affairs.

“The US delegation, representing a number of US government agencies, underscored support for Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s attempts to exploit the conflict against the will of the Libyan people,” the statement said.

Moscow was quick to refute the allegations.

Vladimir Dzhabarov, the first deputy chairman of the Russian upper house's Foreign Affairs Committee, told Sputnik: “Any attempts to accuse Russia of trying to take advantage of the conflict in Libya are groundless, as well as claims that Russian military is deployed there.”

He rejected the Department of State's claims as "nonsense," stressing that it was Washington to blame for the Libyan crisis.

"They'd better remember who has stirred this Libyan pot, who has contributed to the murder of [Libyan leader Moammar] al-Gaddafi, after which the Libyan state has in fact pulled apart. It was exactly the United States," Dzhabarov stressed.

The GNA had previously alleged that Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group were working for the LNA and that several of its members were killed in the battle for Tripoli.

Moscow denies the claim.

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