The rival Libyan National Army (LNA) under renegade Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has today declared a ceasefire in his conflict with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) during the holy month of Ramadan.
The announcement was made by LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari, who stated that all military operations have been halted during the Islamic month of fasting. He clarified, however, that this does not contradict the overall military offensive to capture the GNA-controlled city of Tripoli and those efforts will continue at the end of Ramadan. He added that the LNA would also retaliate against any attacks on its forces even during the ceasefire period, if necessary.
The ceasefire announcement comes just days after Haftar proclaimed that he is the sole ruler of Libya in a video, claiming that he had received a “popular mandate” to govern the country based on protests supporting him in the areas he controls. This declaration was ridiculed by many in the international community, with the GNA condemning it as an act of “untamed foolishness”, the United States rejecting it, and even Russia stating that it was taken by surprise despite militarily and politically backing Haftar and the LNA.
A few hours prior to the ceasefire announcement, Haftar’s forces carried out a number of attacks on GNA and civilian targets, including an artillery strike on a military health facility within the capital Tripoli in which one medic was killed and six government soldiers were injured. A nature reserve in the south of the city was also struck by missiles, causing a fire to break out.
Although Haftar’s forces, based in the east of Libya, have gained control of much of the country in the conflict which erupted following the overthrow of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the GNA – backed by Turkey – has made significant advances in recent weeks and recaptured territory surrounding Tripoli.
Many have questioned whether a ceasefire can be maintained as previously announced truces have been broken by the LNA.