Haftar meets European leaders, militants target two schools in Tripoli
Khalifa Haftar and Emmanuel Macron at the Libyan peace talks in Berlin. (AFP Photo)
Militants affiliated with renegade Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar targeted two schools with rocket fire, local officials said on March 9.
In a statement on social media, the Abu Salim Municipality, in Tripoli, said no one was killed or injured in the attack as the schools were empty at the time.
On Feb. 27, the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) said 21 civilians were killed and 31 wounded amid a relentless military campaign by Haftar’s forces that indiscriminately targeted civilian areas.
In the meantime, Haftar on March 9 met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
A French presidency official told Reuters that Haftar said he will sign a ceasefire and stick to it if militias backed by the internationally recognized government respect it.
"Haftar assured [us] that he was committed to signing the ceasefire but this commitment would cease if the militias do not respect it," the official said after Haftar met Macron.
The official gave no further details.
Haftar also met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 10 for talks on the conflict in Libya, the German government said.
"The Chancellor stressed that there can be no military solution to this conflict and that for this reason a ceasefire and progress in the political process are necessary," the government spokesman said in a written statement.
Despite a peace conference held in Berlin in January, violence has increased in Libya, with combatants in the west and east preparing for a long conflict as foreign weapons flood in, eastern factions close oil ports and rival alliances wrangle over revenues from Africa's largest petroleum reserves.
The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Haftar, and forces aligned with the internationally recognized GNA in Tripoli have been fighting for control of the capital since April last year.
The UAE and Egypt support Haftar, while the GNA is backed by Turkey. France has been accused of lending political support to Haftar, but Paris has denied this.
"Haftar is one of the main actors on the Libyan political scene and must be taken into consideration," the French presidential official said.
The official said there were no plans for Macron to meet or speak to the head of the Tripoli government, Fayez al-Sarraj.
The official also said Macron had raised the issue of oil and moves to ensure the revenues serve all the population and lead to blockades of ports being lifted, but Haftar said it had nothing to do with him.