Libya's Tripoli government reject ceasefire

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s east-based forces had announced a halt to hostilities for Ramadan

Fighters with Libya's UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) gather at a position near the town of Garabulli, some 70 kms east of the capital Tripoli, as they engage in battles with forces loyal to the Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, on April 19, 2020.   / AFP / Mahmud TURKIA
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Libya’s Tripoli government on Thursday rejected a unilateral ceasefire declared by forces loyal to the east-based administration, citing the collapse of past agreements.

Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s east-based forces had announced a halt to hostilities for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan following appeals from the United Nations and the West to redirect resources toward efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Militias allied with the Tripoli-based government recaptured the country’s western coastline and ratcheted up their assault on Field Marshal Haftar's stronghold of Tarhuna in western Libya.

The UN mission in Libya on Thursday praised Field Marshal Haftar’s forces for the ceasefire gesture and urged both parties to turn it into an on-the-ground reality and to resume stalled UN-sponsored truce talks, even if virtually.

With no hope for a peace process in sight, Libya is facing a crippling public health crisis. The Health Ministry in Tripoli on Thursday reported the third death of the new coronavirus from among 61 cases reported countrywide, although testing remains limited.

A report by the UN mission on Thursday documented a 45 per cent spike in the number of civilians killed in violence in the first three months of the year compared to the last quarter of 2019. Ground fighting, targeted killings, airstrikes and improvised explosive devices killed 62 civilians and wounded 67 since January, it said, including 27 children.

Libya sunk into chaos in 2011, when a civil war toppled and later killed long-time dictator Moammar Qaddafi.