Libya’s duelling factions accused each other of violating a ceasefire, just hours after a truce was agreed by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and its rival the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) led by Khalifa Haftar.
The GNA accused Haftar of breaching the ceasefire minutes after it began.
The Tripoli-based government warned it would “respond violently and harshly” if the LAAF breached the agreement again.
On Sunday, amid mounting international pressure, Haftar’s forces declared a “conditional” ceasefire in their offensive to take Tripoli from the GNA.
The truce, proposed by Russia and Turkey, went into effect early on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for the LAAF.
The eastern-based LAAF had said it would maintain the internationally brokered truce in western parts of the country “provided that the other party abides by the ceasefire.”
The LAAF spokesperson Ahmed Mismari had also warned that “any breach will be met with a harsh response.”
The GNA said it would comply with a ceasefire, and the GNA Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj said in a statement that his forces had the “legitimate right” to “respond to any attack or aggression that may come from the other camp.”
Al-Sarraj previously called for the LAAF to withdraw from the capital’s outskirts.
Haftar launched its attack on Tripoli in April 2019, but his forces have so far been unable to seize control of the capital. The LAAF is allied with an administration based in the east of the country.
The GNA government has allies of its own in the region, with Turkey recently deploying troops to Libya to bolster the UN-backed administration.
Earlier this week, Russia and Turkey called for a truce between the GNA and the eastern-based government.
Haftar’s LAAF initially rebuffed the call, but its latest announcement signalled an apparent change of heart.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and other EU leaders joined the push for a ceasefire in Libya as conflict threatens to draw in regional powers. The Italian prime minister called for an end to “foreign interference” in the North African country, once a colony of Italy.
On a related note, President of the European Council Charles Michel met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks on Libya, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the same issue during her visit to Moscow the same day.
In Moscow, Merkel said that Berlin would soon host a Libyan ceasefire talk.