Libya’s Haftar Demands Turkey Withdrawal for End to Offensive

Henry Meyer and Stepan Kravchenko

(Bloomberg) --

Libyan eastern-based military leader Khalifa Haftar demanded that Turkey withdraw its troops and Syrian fighters before any halt to his offensive on the capital Tripoli.

“An end to hostilities depends on a number of conditions,” Haftar said in an interview with state news service RIA Novosti published Friday. “A withdrawal of Syrian and Turkish mercenaries, stopping Turkish arms supplies to Tripoli and wiping out terrorist groups,” he said after talks in Moscow this week with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Haftar, whose forces launched an assault to take Tripoli about 10 months ago, has refused to sign a formal cease-fire agreement despite a shaky truce brokered by Russia and Turkey last month. His offensive has stalled since Turkey sent deployments to Libya in January. He told RIA Novosti his patience with cease-fire violations by the other side is wearing thin and said he supports a planned European naval patrol mission to prevent Turkish arms shipments.

Read More: What’s Behind Nine Years of Turmoil in Libya: QuickTake

Talks resumed between Libyan military officials loyal to the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli and their rivals in the east in Geneva, the U.S. Embassy said Thursday. The negotiations, part of a faltering bid to bring peace to the North African oil and gas producer, were suspended after Haftar’s army shelled the capital’s port.

The conflict has turned into a proxy war with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj getting support from Turkey, while Haftar is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russian mercenaries.

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net;Stepan Kravchenko in Moscow at skravchenko@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Natasha Doff

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