Russian FM says Hifter's forces ready for cease-fire in Libya

Sergey Lavrov said the Tripoli government wants to keep fighting as the war rages on with heavy foreign involvement from Russia, Turkey, Egypt and others.

al-monitor This picture taken on June 11, 2020, shows a view of a mural depicting Mohsen al-Kania a commander of forces loyal Libya's eastern strongman Khalifa Hifter drawn on the wall of a detention facility formerly controlled by them, which fell into the control of security forces affiliated with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA)'s Interior Ministry in the town of Tarhuna, southeast of the capital Tripoli. Photo by MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images.

Jul 8, 2020

Russia’s Libyan allies are ready to sign a cease-fire but the Tripoli-based government is unwilling, according to Russia's top diplomat.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today that the Libyan National Army (LNA) is prepared to lay down its arms, but that the UN-recognized and Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) wants to continue fighting.

“Now, the LNA, according to our assessments, is ready to sign such a document on immediate cease-fire,” said Lavrov, as reported by Russia’s state-run TASS news outlet. “But this time it is the Tripoli government who does not want to do it, counting on the military solution.”

Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates support eastern-based strongman Khalifa Hifter’s LNA in its war with the GNA, which is heavily backed by Turkey. France also allegedly supports the LNA. The GNA controls the area around the capital Tripoli and much of the northwest, while the LNA rules large swaths of the rest of the country.

Lavrov made the comments following a videoconference with African Union states including Egypt. The LNA wanted to continue fighting earlier in the year, but now favors a cease-fire, said Lavrov, according to TASS.

Despite Lavrov’s comments, neither side has shown signs of stopping the bloody conflict. Turkey said this week it wants to help the GNA take the coastal city of Sirte and Libya’s largest airbase in Al Jufra from the LNA. Egypt has threatened military action if the LNA loses Sirte. And unidentified aircraft bombed the GNA’s airbase at al-Watiya this week.

Earlier this year, the LNA suffered a series of defeats and failed to capture Tripoli.

Libya has been mired in civil war since 2014. The country has not had political stability since the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that deposed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. The current conflict has increasingly become a proxy war and exacerbated tensions among European and Middle Eastern states.

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