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Sarraj Heads to Rome Again as Turkey ‘Summons’ his Senior Military Officials

Sarraj Heads to Rome Again as Turkey ‘Summons’ his Senior Military Officials

Friday, 8 January, 2021 - 08:15
GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj during a visit to Ankara, Turkey, on June 4, 2020. (AFP)

Libya has witnessed a flurry of developments in recent days, capped on Thursday with Government of National Accord (GNA) chief Fayez al-Sarraj’s surprise visit to Rome – his second in a month.

Italian media noted that the two-day visit was supposed to have been a formal trip.

Sarraj was then expected to then travel to Turkey, a main backer of the GNA.

A delegation of his senior military officials had arriving in Turkey before him for expanded security talks. It includes Defense Minister Salah al-Namroush, Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, High Council of State chief Khalid al-Mishri, head of the intelligence agency Emad al-Trabulsi, and 16 militia leaders.

Sources close to the GNA said the meeting is aimed at resolving disputes within the GNA and its forces before their withdrawal from frontlines with the Libyan National Army (LNA) in the cities of Sirte al-Jufra.

Unofficial sources said the meeting was aimed at preparing an “imminent military operation.”

Libyan media said that Turkey had “summoned” the delegation for an emergency meeting three weeks before a deadline for foreign forces and mercenaries to pull out from the chaos-ravaged country.

The withdrawal was part of a UN-brokered ceasefire agreement reached between the LNA and GNA in Geneva in October.

The 5+5 military committee, which includes LNA and GNA representatives, is expected to hold a decisive meeting in Sirte next week, revealed informed sources without elaborating.

Meanwhile, GNA commander of Sirte al-Jufra operations Ibrahim Bayt al-Mal expressed his “great disappointment” with the alleged heavy deployment of pro-LNA “Wagner gangs and Janjaweed fighters” near the frontlines.

In a statement on Wednesday, he doubted that the LNA and its affiliated fighters would commit to the ceasefire, citing the failure to pull out the mercenaries.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari denied the deployment of any such forces, hoping that all pending problems would be resolved “to end the large conspiracy that is leading the country towards division.”

He described the situation as calm on the Sirte front, saying the LNA has pushed back “Turkey-backed mercenaries.”

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