Libya’s U.N.-backed government says Hafter’s forces violate truce on its 1st day

FILE PHOTO: A fighter of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez Serraj, fires his rifle during clashes with forces of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, at Al-Khalla frontline./ Getty Images

Libya’s United Nations-backed government has accused its rivals of violating a ceasefire just minutes after it was supposed to take effect.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has for months been battling troops loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, who seeks to take over the capital.

A truce proposed by Russia and Turkey was supposed to have been the first time fighting has been halted for months, and the first brokered by international players.

GNA said in a statement that if a ceasefire violation occurred again, they would “respond violently and harshly.”

Libya has been dogged by war since December 2011, and the situation heightened in early 2019 when Gen. Hafter pledged to take over Tripoli from the U.N.-backed government.

Hafter announced in early December a final push to take Tripoli from Sarraj’s government, unleashing heavy clashes on the southern edges of the city.

Since 2011, the Libyan war has killed thousands and displaced millions as militant groups and human trafficking cells sought to impose their command in various regions across the country.

Last week, France and Egypt called for the “greatest restraint” by Libyan and international authorities to avoid an escalation of the conflict that has rocked the country for months.

The ceasefire agreement has been welcomed by a U.N. peacekeeping mission. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya said in a statement that it hoped all parties would demonstrate “complete adherence” to its terms and stop the violence.

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