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Tribes defecting in support of Libya strongman Haftar

A Libyan tribe is the latest entity to pledge allegiance to military strongman Khalifa Haftar as the enmity between west and east Libya grows and the UN-backed government in Tripoli fast losing general support.

The Gharyan tribe set free former Colonel Sasi Al-Ghani Al-Tarhouni, who served in the army under former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, as part of an alliance deal with the east Libyan military leader Haftar.

Read: Libya's Haftar holds talks with UK delegation

Many Libyan tribes are reportedly showing greater support for Haftar due to the increasing animosity towards the Libyan mufti, Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghiriani, who has backed the general's Islamist militant enemies in Benghazi. Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) celebrated victory over the last remaining Islamist fighters in Benghazi this week which was quickly overshadowed by the shocking scenes of LNA fighters digging up bodies of dead fighters and parading their mutilated corpses through the city, described as a war crime by Human Rights Watch. Libya's President Fayez Al-Sarraj denounced the actions of the rival army in east Libya in a televised speech.

These acts do not represent our culture and religion and we will do everything in our power to put these criminals on trial and make an example of them.

Many Libyan tribal leaders have accused Islamist groups, including Daesh, of destabilising the country and being largely responsible for the lawlessness that has plunged Libya into crisis. However, many Islamist groups are not extremists like Daesh, but instead resist Haftar because of his links to the US Central Intelligence Agency, and also because they fear a return to Gaddafi-style totalitarian rule.

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