Russian-Turkish calls for Libya ceasefire

Libya’s United Nations-supported Government has welcomed Russian and Turkish calls for a ceasefire in the country’s ongoing civil war.

The Tripoli-based Government led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj released a statement late yesterday expressing its full support of any serious calls for the resumption of the political process and the elimination of the specter of war. The calls for a stop to the fighting came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity by European powers yesterday. 

Turkish President Recep Tayep Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin released a joint statement after a meeting in Istanbul calling for a January 12th ceasefire to the battles between forces loyal to Sarraj’s Government and the eastern-based Libyan National Army, LNA.

In their joint statement, the Russian and Turkish Presidents did not mention the conditions of their suggested ceasefire. Libyan National Army forces have yet to officially respond to the Russian-Turkish ceasefire calls. 

Libya is currently governed by duelling authorities in the east and in the west. The east-based government, backed by LNA forces, is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia. The western, Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.

 Haftar’s military spokesman said, “We welcome [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s call for a ceasefire. However, our fight against terrorist organizations that seized Tripoli and received support of some countries will continue until the end,” according to Al Jazeera.

At least 1,000 people have been killed since the LNA’s military offensive began months ago — though fighting has been sporadic for years  with at least 5,000 others wounded, according to United Nations estimates. 

Meanwhile, Turkish troops are said to have touched down in the Libyan capital earlier this week after Turkey’s parliament voted through a plan for military assistance to the besieged GNA. This after reports that Ankara has actually sent Turkish-backed Syrian militants with the FSA as mercenaries to assist in the campaign. 

Currently pro-Haftar forces are claiming to be a mere few kilometers away from the center of Tripoli. “The Libyan Army is now in Tripoli, and they are positioned only a few kilometers from the city center,” an LNA military spokesman said in an Arabic statement Thursday

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