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Libyan army accuses Egypt of arming Haftar

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi meets with Commander of the Libyan national army Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in Cairo, Egypt, on 13 May 2017 [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi meets with Commander of the Libyan national army Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in Cairo, Egypt, on 13 May 2017 [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]

The Libyan army has accused Egypt of arming renegade Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The army announced yesterday that, "Two Egyptian planes landed at Sabha Airport carrying a shipment of weapons and ammunition hidden under a cargo of medicines." The consignment, it said, was intended for Haftar's militia.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health announced that the shipment of medicines had arrived in Sabha from Egypt, in coordination with the Government of National Unity. According to the pro-Haftar TV channel Al-Hadath, though, the shipment was coordinated between Egypt and Haftar.

Earlier, the Libyan army announced that military aircraft operated by Russian "Wagner" mercenaries in support of Haftar's militia had been spotted above Al-Jufra, south-east of Tripoli, despite the ceasefire agreed in Libya last October during discussions in Geneva, which stipulated the withdrawal of all foreign mercenaries from Libya within three months of the signing of the deal. Haftar's militia has violated the ceasefire agreement frequently as the commander of the eastern forces continues to mobilise his forces.

Indeed, troops loyal to Haftar, without the approval of the Presidential Council, launched extensive military manoeuvres last month, which coincided with the first military meeting held by Mohamed El-Menfi, the head of the Presidential Council in the capital. El-Menfi, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Army, did not refer to the exercises initiated by the eastern forces.

It is significant that reference has been made to Lieutenant General Muhammad Al-Haddad as Chief of Staff of the Libyan Army. This has enraged pro-Haftar media, which regard him as the commander of the army. The manoeuvres were thus, it is believed, intended to send a particular message to the government.

After years of armed conflict, an apparent breakthrough in the Libyan crisis was achieved with the selection of a unified transitional authority that took office on 16 March. The authority is headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh and El-Menfi in his role as Chairman of the Presidential Council.

READ: Turkey insists that Libya has not asked to cancel military cooperation

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