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Iran Press TV

Libya's Haftar marches on Misrata; truce at risk

Iran Press TV

Monday, 27 January 2020 6:46 AM

Forces loyal to Libya's renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar advance towards the key northern city of Misrata as threats mount against a truce that was brokered between the country's warring sides earlier this month.

Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) on Sunday began moving from the central city of Sirte towards Misrata, which is loyal to Libya's United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Fighting between the LNA and forces from Misrata was centered on the town of Abugrain, 120 kilometers (74 miles) east of Misrata, the agency cited both sides as saying.

Two LNA fighters were killed and eight were wounded, an LNA source said, adding that the forces later retreated taking some prisoners.

"Battles are raging on all front lines," LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari told reporters in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Haftar's LNA is being backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while the GNA receives support from Turkey.

Also on Sunday, Tripoli's Mitiga airport, the capital's only functioning air terminal, was hit by two rockets, said the UN mission to Libya UNSMIL.

The attack wounded two civilians and damaged the tarmac and buildings at the facility -- which is used for the launch of Ankara-supplied combat drones, it added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, said during a visit to neighboring Algeria that Haftar could not be expected to respect the ceasefire that was brokered by Turkey and Russia in Berlin on January 12.

He also claimed during a press conference with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune that Ankara was resolutely standing by the Libyan people in their hour of need, Turkey's state news agency Anadolu reported. "We are determined to stand by our Libyan brothers," Erdogan said.

The LNA spokesman, however, blamed Erdogan, who has been dispatching troops to shore up the UN-backed government, for the flare-up.

The UN mission also sounded a note of caution that "over the last 10 days, numerous cargo and other flights have been observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country, providing the parties with advanced weapons, armored vehicles, advisers, and fighters."

Libya has been mired in chaos since a 2011 uprising that was being backed by the Western military alliance of NATO killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

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