By Khalid Mahmoud
Leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Marshal Khalifa Haftar has once again rejected calls made by Libyan Prime Minister of Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj to end military operations to liberate the South of armed militias, instead assigning a commander for the southern military area.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is expected to discuss the Libyan crisis in his first summit with Donald Trump since the US President took office in January.
Algeria is also playing its part in attempts to resolve the Libyan crisis.
Algerian Minister of State Abdul Qader Msahel is expected to begin his trip to Libya on Wednesday during which he will visit several cities, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
The statement mentioned that Msahel’s visit is part of the continuous efforts exerted by Algeria to reach a political solution through a comprehensive Libyan dialogue and national reconciliation.
On the battlefield, the LNA air force targeted third force militias located near Tamnhant airbase in the south of the country, where the military besieges militias inside the airbase most of which are loyal to Sarraj’s government, including the militias loyal to Chadian opposition and the city of Sirte.
Leader of Shield of South brigade Ahmed al-Hasnawi, who is loyal to Sarraj’s GNA, said army troops shelled the airbase, while Brigade 201 spokesperson said the base was targeted with over 20 howitzer-152 projectiles.
Spokesperson of Sarraj government’s militias Mohammed al-Ghosari said that Haftar’s end, which will start in southern Libya, is nearing. He stated that the so-called international intervention force will target the troops and air force of the Libyan National Army in the South.
Ghosari added that the ministry of defense of Sarraj’s government had requested a no-fly zone over southern Libya.
Haftar, who heads the LNA that is loyal to the internationally recognized parliament, ordered the formation of a main operations room for the air force of the general directorate of the army in Benina airbase in Benghazi, eastern Libya.
Haftar had instructed General Pilot Mohammed al-Manfoor to lead the operations room and create additional rooms in areas of al-Akhdar Mountain, central, western and southern Libya. He also assigned Brigadier Khalifa al-Taher Khalifa Milad commander of the southern military area.
Haftar’s decisions came at a time the European Union warned that the escalating violence and clashes are threatening the political process and jeopardizing the lives of Libyan civilians.
“Libyans deserve peace and stability, and expect all sides to refrain from violence and take measures to de-escalate the tense situation. Libya’s political crisis can only be solved through negotiation between all stakeholders based on willingness to compromise and by putting the interests of Libyans first,” an EU spokesman said.
The spokesperson pointed out that the United Nations remains the framework through which the international community continues to support Libya’s political settlement. He confirmed EU’s determination to continue supporting this process, including through the Libya Quartet with the United Nations as well as the African Union and the Arab League.
Sarraj had called on the international community to end the clashes in the south of the country, saying the sudden military escalation puts Libya on the brink of a civil war.
In the past few months, the LNA was able to liberate several areas after it lost control over two primary oil ports and then liberated them recently.