Forces belonging to the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar have confirmed their “redeployment” away from the Libyan capital following the announcement by the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj that it is back in full control.
On Thursday, the GNA said it had retaken the whole of Greater Tripoli, finally beating off an offensive LNA’s forces launched in April last year.
The LNA’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said the redeployment was a “humanitarian gesture intended to spare the Libyan people further bloodshed.”
Hundreds have been killed and 200,000 more driven from their homes since the LNA launched an assault, vowing to “cleanse” the capital of the “terrorist militias” they said dominated the GNA.
Al-Mesmari said the redeployment was also intended to give a boost to the work of a UN-backed military commission tasked with shoring up a nationwide ceasefire.
“We announce that we are redeploying our forces outside Tripoli on condition that the other side respect the ceasefire,” he said in a statement released late Thursday.
“If they do not respect it, we will resume military operations and suspend our participation in the negotiations of the military committee.”
The United Nations’ Libya mission said Tuesday that after a three-month suspension, the warring parties had agreed to resume ceasefire talks.
A military commission made up of five GNA loyalists and five LNA delegates held talks in February, but the dialogue was suspended.
A January truce brokered by GNA backer Turkey and key LNA ally Russia has been repeatedly violated.
The LNA is supported by neighboring Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as well as Russia.
UN experts in April said hundreds of mercenaries from Russian paramilitary organisation the Wagner Group were fighting for him.
But last month, as the LNA’s losses mounted, the GNA said Wagner Group fighters had withdrawn from combat zones south of the capital.