European Union Renews Call for Permanent Libya Truce
By Staff, Agencies
The European Union called Friday on Libya’s warring sides to establish a permanent truce and return to UN-led talks to prepare for quick elections. Nearly 1,100 people have been reported killed since military strongman Khalifa Haftar, based in eastern Libya, launched an offensive against the capital Tripoli on April 4, according to the World Health Organization.
“The European Union and its member states are united in demanding that all Libyan parties commit to a permanent cease-fire,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.
The EU also urged the parties to return to a UN-brokered political process, Mogherini said in a statement issued in Brussels while she met in Bangkok with foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The EU and its 28 countries, she said, welcomed UN envoy Ghassan Salame’s cease-fire proposal for Eid al-Adha as well as his call to relaunch negotiations.
Salame, in a videoconference Monday, raised the alarm over the “increasing frequent attacks on Mitiga,” the Libyan capital’s only functioning airport. “Several of these attacks have come perilously close to hitting civilian aircraft with passengers on board,” he said.
The EU has long supported the UN-recognized and Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in a bid to restore peace and stability following the 2011 revolt that toppled Moammar Gadhafi. His ouster occurred after EU countries Britain and France gave military support to anti-Gadhafi fighters.
The EU has also worked for years with the GNA to curb the flow of migrants through a largely lawless Libya to Europe from sub-Saharan Africa. The four months of fighting has complicated such cooperation.
Fighters loyal to the GNA have kept Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army at bay on the southern outskirts of the city.
Also Friday, the UN-recognized government said at least nine loyalist fighters had been killed in clashes with Haftar’s forces in the south of Tripoli.
Pro-GNA forces Thursday night “launched a special operation in the Yarmouk and Salaheddine” areas of Tripoli’s southern suburbs during which they “retook control of key Haftar positions,” GNA spokesperson Mustafa al-Mejii told AFP.
“We destroyed three armored vehicles and seized four tanks,” he said, adding that nine pro-GNA fighters were killed, five of them in an airstrike. Mejii said several of Haftar’s forces were killed or wounded during the operation, while six were captured.