Moroccan Army launches massive operations in in Western Sahara

Moroccan soldiers patrol the city of Tangiers on August 11, 2020. [Photo: AFP]
Morocco announced Friday that its troops had launched an operation in no man’s land on the southern border of the Western Sahara to end “provocations” by the pro-independence Polisario Front.

Rabat said its troops would “put a stop to the blockade” of trucks travelling between Moroccan-controlled areas of the disputed territory and neighbouring Mauritania, and “restore free circulation of civilian and commercial traffic.”

In response, the Polisario Front said the three-decade-old ceasefire in the disputed Western Sahara was over.

“War has started, the Moroccan side has liquidated the ceasefire,” senior Polisario official Mohamed Salem Ould Salek told AFP, describing the action by Rabat as an “aggression”.

“Sahrawi troops are engaged in legitimate self-defence and are responding to the Moroccan troops,” said Ould Salek, who serves as foreign minister of the Polisario-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Pro-Polisario protesters have for weeks blocked the road where it passes through a UN-monitored buffer zone near the Mauritanian border after a UN Security Council resolution that included language seen as favourable to Morocco.

In a statement the Foreign Ministry said Morocco “had no other choice but to assume its responsibilities in order to put an end to the blockade … and restore the free flow of civilian and commercial traffic”.

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