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Libya GNA warns from Haftar’s possible entry to Tripoli with Russian support

Marshal Khalifa Haftar, chief of the so-called Libyan National Army, leaves the main building of Russia's Foreign Ministry after a meeting with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs in Moscow on 29 November 2016 [VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images]
Marshal Khalifa Haftar, chief of the so-called Libyan National Army, leaves the main building of Russia's Foreign Ministry after a meeting with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs in Moscow on 29 November 2016 [VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images]

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala warned of the possibility that retired Major General Khalifa Haftar could enter Tripoli, especially after the recent Russian intervention in Libya.

Siala explained during a press interview that the ongoing escalation in Libya is due to Russian mercenaries’ support to Khalifa Haftar in bombing Tripoli by various means, noting that this matter will lead to civilian casualties and the displacement of thousands of migrants to European shores.

“I live in Tripoli and many believe that it cannot be taken over. However, chaos can worsen the city’s situation, so the public in the city are now asking: Why isn’t the international community that worked to protect civilians in 2011 doing the same now?” added the Foreign Minister.

He indicated that what the Russians say about their support for UN initiatives cannot be taken for granted because the problem lies in Russian prevarication, as Moscow declares a matter and does a completely different matter.

“I think Libya has strategic importance for Russia. They want to tighten their grip on our lands, and perhaps they are working on a strategy that cannot be currently implemented, and that is why their tactics are currently considering the use of mercenaries only,” continued Siala.

For his part, UN Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé said that “Russian support” for the forces of retired Major General Khalifa Haftar has intensified his attack on Tripoli during the past few days, warning that this may cause a “bloodbath” in the Libyan capital.

READ: Expelling Libya’s ambassador is not a solution for the Eastern Mediterranean

Salamé explained that the Russian military forces, who are called “mercenaries or young contractors”, have contributed to changing the strategic balance, pointing out that “since the Russians joined Haftar’s forces, the attack on Tripoli has regained its power.”

“In the last ten days, the war has moved to the urban district of the capital. I do not rule out the possibility of a new deadlock or overwhelming progress,” continued Salamé, stressing that “if this continues, there will be more civilian casualties, more displaced people, and more suffering.”

Salamé did not rule out that the sudden entry of Haftar’s forces to Tripoli would hinder efforts of the preparation for the Berlin International Conference on Libya.

He added that “there will be a bloodbath, a terrible situation of street fighting and indescribable massacres and destruction in the heart of urban areas. It is, therefore, necessary to accelerate things up. The method of dialogue must immediately impose itself to stop the war.”

“In these hours, the fighting has intensified with a number of airstrikes on the Libyan capital. Haftar is advancing,” indicated Salamé.

Germany has for weeks been preparing for a conference on Libya that brings together the influential international parties in the Libyan file to discuss a political solution that would end the conflict in the country away from military solutions. The conference is expected to be held on the second half of December or early next year.

READ: Libya GNA slams Haftar air strikes on Tripoli as war crime

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