A war of words has escalated between Libya’s two conflicting parties, threatening the recent United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)-sponsored ceasefire agreement.
Regional and international parties have contacted Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj to urge them to halt this escalation that threatens the collapse of a truce concluded in October, according to Libyan sources.
“US and international pressures aim to defuse the crisis and stop the mutual media war to secure the atmosphere for a decisive meeting of the Joint Military Committee, known as (5 + 5),” sources explained.
Military officials from both sides said their forces have received military reinforcements over the past hours and have taken combat positions along the lines of contact in the vicinity of Sirte and al-Jufra cities.
This amassing of forces means confrontation is nearing despite their commitment to the fragile ceasefire, they added.
Haftar’s remarks during the 69th anniversary of Libya’s independence and replies by GNA-affiliated military officials threatened the return of war.
In his statements, Haftar called on his fighters to “drive out” Turkish forces backing the UN-recognized government.
“There will be no peace in the presence of a colonizer on our land,” he said on Thursday.
“We will therefore take up arms again to fashion our peace with our own hands... and, since Turkey rejects peace and opts for war, prepare to drive out the occupier by faith, will, and weapons,” he stressed.
He noted that the international community did not stop the aggressors who continued to send mercenaries and weapons in a declaration of war on Libyans, in defiance to the international will and in an underestimation of human values.
Turkey thinks it will achieve its dreams of expansion and influence and its ambitions to control the oil fields and its export ports to address its collapsing economy through Libya’s wealth, Haftar stated.
He addressed the Turkish-loyal mercenaries saying firing their first bullet “means preparing for death,” stressing that all patriots shall be prepared to confront those who manipulate billions of dollars of Libyans’ money.
On Thursday, the GNA celebrated, in the presence of Turkish ambassador to Libya Sarhan Aksan, the 69th anniversary of Libya’s independence by organizing military parades in the center of the capital, Tripoli, in light of widespread security deployment.