Illegal militia of warlord Khalifa Haftar announces halt in hostilities, after suffering setbacks during weeks of intense fighting against internationally-recognised government.

Libya's UN-recognised Government of National Accord forces make preparations as they launch an operation against the militias of warlord Khalifa Haftar in the town of Tarhunah near Tripoli, in Libya on April 19, 2020.
Libya's UN-recognised Government of National Accord forces make preparations as they launch an operation against the militias of warlord Khalifa Haftar in the town of Tarhunah near Tripoli, in Libya on April 19, 2020. (Hazem Turkia / AA)

Militia loyal to Libya's warlord Khalifa Haftar on Thursday announced a unilateral ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan, after setbacks in fighting against the UN-backed government in capital Tripoli.

The militia spokesman Ahmed Mismari said in a television broadcast that the ceasefire came at the request of the international community and "friendly countries".

But he said the militia had the right to respond to any military action and said they had not given up on their aims against UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

There was no immediate GNA response to the militia's declaration of a ceasefire.

The announcement came after Haftar's forces attacked a military health facility in the capital Tripoli with rockets.

One health worker was killed and six officers were wounded.

A fire also broke out at a nature reserve in the south of Tripoli from missile strikes.

Self-declared ruler

Haftar on Monday unilaterally declared himself the ruler of Libya.

In a video message, he pointed to street demonstrations in areas under his control and claimed he "accepted the mandate of the Libyan people" to govern the country.

He said the Skhirat agreement signed in 2015 by the warring sides in Libya under the auspices of the UN is "a thing of the past."

UN-deal

Under the deal, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) was formed to manage the transition process in Libya. However, Haftar and his political allies tried to prevent the agreement from entering into force with his initiatives on the ground.

GNA has been under attack by Haftar's militia forces since last April, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. It launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital.

Since the ouster of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya, supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

Source: Reuters