The Government of National Accord (GNA) is “determined” to resume its offensive against warlord Haftar’s militias unless they withdrew from two strategic locations, port city of Sirte and home to an airbase Jufra, Turkish foreign minister says.

Libya’s UN-recognised government will agree to a cease-fire only if warlord Khalifa Haftar withdraws his forces from country’s central and western regions, the Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu said, 2020, July 12.
Libya’s UN-recognised government will agree to a cease-fire only if warlord Khalifa Haftar withdraws his forces from country’s central and western regions, the Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu said, 2020, July 12. (AA)

Turkey has reiterated the Libyan government's preconditions for any ceasefire deal, that demand the withdrawal of warlord Khalifa Haftar's militia from the war-torn country’s central and western regions.

In a news report published by the Financial Times (FT) on Sunday, Cavusoglu said the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj, is “determined” to resume its offensive against Haftar’s forces unless they withdrew from two strategic locations, port city of Sirte and home to an airbase Jufra.

The Turkish foreign minister pointed out that Russia presented a cease-fire offer during talks in Istanbul last month with a “concrete date and time.”

He said “when Ankara consulted with the GNA, the Libyan officials stated their preconditions on Sirte and Jufra and for Haftar’s forces to return to “lines” they held in 2015.”

Cavusoglu said that Ankara may support the offensive and the GNA’s preconditions for a cease-fire are “legitimate and reasonable.”

Also speaking about an air attack against the al Watiya air base last weekend, Cavusoglu told the FT that “there was an investigation to determine who was responsible, but vowed that whoever it was “will pay”.”

Turkey had “trainers and technical staff” at the base, which Turkish-backed forces captured from Haftar in May, but none were harmed, he also said.

READ MORE: The importance of the GNA capture of al Watiya air base in Libya

“We are not for any kind of escalation in the region, or war, but their [Haftar’s backers] engagement is with a putschist, Haftar,” Cavusoglu said.

Haftar's unwillingness for cease-fire

Haftar on January 14 refused to sign onto a Russian-Turkish initiative for a cease-fire and continued his offensive and failed attempt to capture the capital Tripoli.

Libya's Foreign Ministry confirmed that they always sought to achieve a peaceful solution to the country's crisis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week claimed the "Libyan government is unwilling to sign a cease-fire agreement and seeks a military solution."

"We remind the Russian foreign minister that the Russian-Turkish initiative was signed by the GNA in Moscow while Haftar refused to sign and departed [Moscow], putting Russia in an embarrassing position," said a statement from the Libyan Foreign Ministry.

Since April 2019, Haftar's illegitimate forces have launched attacks on the Libyan capital of Tripoli and other parts of northwestern Libya, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths, including civilian women and children.

However, the Libyan government has recently achieved significant victories, pushing Haftar’s forces out of Tripoli and the strategic city of Tarhuna.

READ MORE: Mass grave found in south of Tripoli - Libyan interior ministry

Source: AA