Hafter forces move as second round of political dialogue begin

Military forces begin to move in preparation for the possible failure of the dialogue forum

Hafter forces move towards Sirte as the second round of LPDF kicks off. [AFP]
The forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya said that they detected the movement of large military forces of Khalifa Haftar towards the city of Sirt.

The spokesman for the GNA Sirte al-Jufra Liberation Operations Room, General Abdul-Hadi Daraa, told news outlets that these convoys move at night in batches from Benghazi city, to centralise in axes west of the coastal city of Sirte (450 km east of Tripoli).

He suspected that the purpose of moving these forces would be to try to show force after a Hafter’s political failure or to hold military manoeuvres with live ammunition among his forces, confirming that they include fighters of several nationalities.

He also added that these militias of Haftar are carrying out simultaneous deployments, stating that he did yet know the exact target of these deployments, but that “it is likely that it violates the cease-fire agreement” Which was signed October of this year.

The Libyan military leader questioned the fate of the agreement reached in the last meeting of the joint military committee in Sirte on the 12th of this month, which provided a starting point for the removal of mercenaries and foreign fighters from the targeted area by opening the coastal road and gathering them in Tripoli and Benghazi for their departure from Libyan lands.

Parliamentary sources from Tobruk revealed that the current gathering of Haftar militias aims at preparing for “a military stage if the political dialogue fails”, in a reference to the second round of the political dialogue that started this morning, after the first round ended last week without reaching what many considered any conclusive results.

GNA forces have repeatedly declared a military movement toward Sirte, which was controlled by Heftar forces at the beginning of this year, and after restoring the southern suburbs of Tripoli and the city of Tarhunah at the beginning of last June, the internationally recognized government forces headed toward Sirte before stopping at its outskirts amid international pressures to prevent a military confrontation there.

Last October, information was received from the Ministry of Defense in the government of Al-Wefaq about a possible attack by the forces of Haftar on the cities of Tharouna, Gharyan and Beni Walid (west of Libya), but a spokesman for Haftar denied at that time that they planned such an action.

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