UN-recognized Libyan admin rejects unilateral truce
The U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya on April 30 said it rejected the unilateral truce call made by its arch-enemy, renegade commander Khalifa Haftar -- the warlord of the armed forces based in the east.
The GNA issued a statement regarding Haftar’s truce call for the Ramadan period, saying the U.N.-recognized administration previously accepted the ceasefire calls made by the international community.
But the GNA said that Haftar side repeatedly violated the ceasefire agreements and the latest call was "nothing more than a deception attempt", adding that the warlord sought to benefit from the coronavirus outbreak with which the GNA has been dealing with.
Stressing that a permanent ceasefire would be possible under auspices of the U.N. and international community, the GNA added that it would respond to the acts threatening the lives of Libyans.
The GNA conducted five air operations targeting militants loyal to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar at Al-Watiya airbase southwest of the capital Tripoli, a local official said early on May 1.
Al-Watiya is regarded as a key airbase in the country and is second only to Mitiga Airport. It was captured in August 2014 by Haftar, the leader of illegally armed forces in eastern Libya, who used it as his headquarters for western operations.
"The operation targeted Haftar's forces and military ammunition," GNA military spokesman Mohammed Qanunu said in a statement.
As part of Operation Peace Storm, air operations are being periodically carried out against the base, which is mostly controlled by Haftar's militias.
Airstrikes on military convoy
Earlier, the Libyan government carried out six airstrikes on a military convoy of Haftar's forces south of Tripoli.
"Our air forces carried out six airstrikes on an armed convoy of terrorist Haftar's militia,” Qanunu said in a statement by the press center of the GNA-led Operation Volcano of Rage.
The statement said the operation was carried out on a road between the Kariyyat and Nesma regions near Mersit Valley.
It did not provide further details.
Meanwhile, forces of the GNA took control of two fronts early on May 1 in the south of the capital Tripoli.
"Our forces made progress on the Mashru and Hallatat fronts and took a large area under control," Mustafa al-Majai, spokesman for the GNA’s Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) operation, told Anadolu Agency, adding the areas had been out of their control for three months.
He said they have also taken the Hamza camp in the south of Tripoli.
The GNA accuses several regional and European countries of providing military support to militias loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who contests the GNA's legitimacy and authority in the oil-rich country.
UN calls for truce, blames Haftar forces for civilian deaths
In the meantime, the U.N. on April 30called on parties in Libya to announce a cease-fire and resume joint military commission talks.
“Building on the various Libyan and international calls for a ceasefire, including the Libyan National Army's constructive statement announcing a truce during Ramadan and the response of the Government of National Accord, U.N.SMIL calls upon both parties to seize this opportunity to immediately halt all military operations and resume the 5 5 Joint Military Commission talks -- on a virtual basis, if needed -- with the goal to reach a permanent ceasefire based upon the draft agreement proposed by the Mission on 23 February,” the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (U.N.SML) said in a statement.
The UNSMIL also expressed concern over the civilian causalities in the country by the forces of Haftar.
“UNSMIL is very concerned by the continued indiscriminate attacks and targeting of civilians in civilian populated areas and the increase in civilian casualties from the use of rockets and artillery, as well as from targeted killings by forces affiliated to the “Libyan National Army” it said in a statement.
According to the statement, the UNSMIL documented at least 131 civilian casualties including 64 deaths and 67 injuries, from Jan. 1 to March 31 this year.
“This figure represents an overall increase in civilian casualties of 45 percent compared to the preceding period in the fourth quarter of 2019,” the statement added.
“Ground fighting was the leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted killings, airstrikes, and improvised explosive devices,” the mission said.
“All parties to the conflict must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law including complying with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack to prevent civilian casualties,” the statement cited head of UNSMIL Stephanie Williams as saying.