Portuguese / Spanish / English

Middle East Near You

Haftar: Military operations include handing over Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood leaders

Renegade Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, who is leading armed clashes against the Libyan army, said that his country would cooperate with Egypt on the security front to fight extremists in both countries, adding that Libya has the right to build a strong army to support the Egyptian army, according to Egypt's Al-Mesryoon newspaper.

Speaking from Benghazi, Haftar said that the position of Egypt's former Defence Minister and presidential candidate, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, on the 30 June "revolution" is accurate.

He pointed out that what is happening in Libya is a war on terrorism and stressed that his country will hand over the leaders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood fleeing to Libya.

Media reports have linked Haftar's moves against Islamic militants in Libya with the Egyptian army leader and the popular, political and religious forces that overthrew elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in a military coup in July of last year.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has denied claims of supporting Haftar's forces in the fighting last Friday and Saturday in Benghazi, eastern Libya, which left 75 people dead and 136 injured. The ministry condemned what it called "attempts by some parties inside and outside Libya to involve Egypt in the on-going developments there".

The newspaper cites Haftar as saying that, "nearly 70,000 soldiers, including soldiers in the air force, navy and ground forces, have joined his troops."

He also denied claims that he is an agent of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, explaining that: "I participated in the September 1969 revolution which was carried out by many men, and not Gaddafi alone. The revolution continued until Gaddafi monopolised the country's rule and we entrusted him to protect the country. Unfortunately, after only a short period of his rule, he took the country towards a course not favoured by his colleagues and he began making mistakes until we separated from him."

Haftar expressed his intention to overcome the problems and rebuild a strong new army equipped with modern weapons in the hope to achieve national reconciliation, saying: "We will endeavour to national reconciliation with all our strength. Every Libyan abroad and anyone who violated the law during the 17 February revolution, whether by killing Libyans or stealing their money, must be summoned to be tried for their crimes."

Al-Mesryoon also reported Haftar as saying that he would run for Libya's presidency if the Libyan masses want him to be president, claiming that he began the revolution to restore security and stability to the Libyan people and "to clean the country from extremist groups and militants who disturb the country's peace".

He previously told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the Benghazi assault "is a purge to conclusively get rid of this disease at this stage," in reference to Libya's Islamists.

Haftar led a battalion of Libyan soldiers to support Egypt during the 1973 war against Israel, leading most of the major manoeuvres conducted in Libya and earning him a Gold Star.

He also led the Libyan forces in the war in Chad in 1980 and was promoted to the rank of colonel that same year, although under his leadership Libya lost the war, which caused the death of many Libyans. Haftar was also accused of committing war crimes against Chadians.

Show Comments
Show Comments