Pompeo urges Libya’s Turkish-backed GNA to accept ceasefire, end fighting

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters during a media briefing at the State Department in Washington, on May 6, 2020. (Reuters)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday pressed Libya’s Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) for a ceasefire and criticized the flow of weapons as Tripoli pushes back against a year-old offensive.

Pompeo placed a phone call to Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to “reiterate US opposition to the continued level of weapons and munitions being brought into the country,” the State Department said.

Pompeo and Sarraj “emphasized the importance of an immediate halt to the fighting and return to political dialogue,” a statement said.

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Member of Libya's GNA holds his weapon after taking control of Watiya airbase. (Reuters)

Member of Libya's GNA holds his weapon after taking control of Watiya airbase. (Reuters)

Sarraj’s UN-recognized GNA has been pushing back against an alternative government – supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA) – based in the eastern city of Benghazi whose forces are led by General Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar launched an offensive to capture the Libyan capital of Tripoli in April vowing to end the rule of militias that include hardline groups linked to Al Qaeda and others. General Haftar has reportedly received support from international allies opposed to extremism and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Pompeo’s statement did not name any country for sending in weapons, but the GNA’s key military supplier is Turkey, which signed a pact with Tripoli in November.

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A report last month by the International Crisis Group said that Turkey has sent into Libya at least 100 military officers, shiploads of weapons and aerial defenses as well as at least 2,000 pro-Turkish fighters from Syria.

The United States officially backs the UN-recognized GNA and opposes Haftar’s offensive.

But its position has caused confusion as President Donald Trump, who has close ties with Haftar’s Arab allies, in April 2019 spoke with the strongman by telephone and praised him.

(With AFP)

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