Haftar forces accept Turkey, Russia call for cease-fire

Haftar forces accept Turkey, Russia call for cease-fire

TRIPOLI-Anadolu Agency
Haftar forces accept Turkey, Russia call for cease-fire

Forces loyal to Libya's renegade Gen. Khalifa Haftar accepted a joint call by Turkey and Russia for a cease-fire and truce in the battle for Tripoli on Jan. 10. 

Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said in a video message that forces accepted the cease-fire call but would harshly respond if violated. 

The cease-fire took effect at 12 midnight local time [2200GMT] and the decision was celebrated with fireworks in Tripoli.

Drivers sounded their horns to celebrate the truce. After the cease-fire declaration, calm reigned in the capital, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter who was at the scene.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Ministry of the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) announced it would reopen Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport, which was closed due to Haftar attacks. 

The cease-fire announcement came minutes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, held a telephone conversation. Erdoğan and Putin urged a cease-fire by Jan. 12, following a meeting in Istanbul on Jan. 8.

The leaders held a telephone conversation on Jan. 11 to discuss regional issues, including Libya, according to diplomatic sources.

No further details of the conversation have been provided.

On Jan. 11, Turkish Foreign Minister said Turkey expects Russia to convince Haftar for a cease-fire.

"Turkey's expectation from its Russian friends is to convince general Khalifa Haftar for a cease-fire in Libya based on what was agreed upon by the Turkish and Russian presidents," said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, speaking at a joint news conference with his Ghanaian counterpart Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey in Istanbul.

The head of the U.N.-recognized government in Libya is due to visit Turkey on Jan. 12. Fayez al-Sarraj is expected to meet Erdoğan.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the cease-fire was a "first step" toward a political solution but cautioned there is a long way to go but the direction is correct.

On April 4, Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli from the GNA. According to the U.N., more than 1,000 people have been killed since the start of the operation and greater than 5,000 injured. 

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the U.N. and international recognition.