Eastern Libyan forces ordered to move west to fight militants

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Forces loyal to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar have been ordered to move to western Libya to fight militants, their media office said on Wednesday.

The deployment is likely to alarm the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, whose Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has been negotiating over a power-sharing deal with a parallel administration in the east that is allied to Haftar.

A video released by the Libyan National Army (LNA) media offfice showed a convoy of armored vehicles and pickup trucks mounted with heavy guns on the road.

“In fulfilment of his (Haftar) orders, several military units moved to the western region to purge the remaining terrorist groups located in their last hideouts,” the LNA said in a statement with the video.

It gave no details but the area appears to be the coastal road linking the eastern city of Benghazi, the LNA main base, with Tripoli in western Libya.

A resident in Ras Lanuf, an oil town located on the coastal road, said tanks and military convoys were seen heading westwards in the direction of Sirte.

Sirte is in central Libya controlled by a force from the western city of Mistrata allied to the Tripoli administration.

In January, the LNA, which is loyal to Haftar, started a campaign to take control of the south and its oilfields.

The United Nations is holding a conference this month in the southwestern city of Ghadames to discuss a political solution to prepare the country for elections and to avoid a military showdown.