Middle-East Crisis: GNA vows to retake Libya’s east after Sirte offensive

Libya’s internationally-recognised government has promised to retake the country’s east after launching an offensive to capture the strategic city of Sirte from the eastern-based forces of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.

On Saturday, forces allied with the Government of National Accord (GNA) launched the offensive to seize Sirte, a key gateway to the country’s main oil fields in the east, from Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) forces which took the city in January.

On Saturday, Egypt, which backs Haftar, unveiled an initiative to end the conflict in Libya. The plan, revealed by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi alongside Haftar at a news conference, included a proposal for a ceasefire to take effect from Monday.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya, on Sunday, welcomed the initiative.

“In order for talks to resume in earnest, the guns must be silenced. In that light, UNMSIL welcomes the calls by international and regional actors in recent days for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Libya,” the UN mission said in a statement.

However, it said it remains alarmed by the harm inflicted on the civilian population by the continuing cycle of violence in Libya.

“The recent military movements in Greater Tripoli and Tarhouna have led to new waves of displacement and suffering of over 16,000 Libyans in the past few days,” it added.

Libya plunged into chaos after Gaddafi’s killing during the 2011 uprising.

The oil-rich North African country is split between two rival administrations in the east and the west, each backed by opposing fighters struggling for power in the wake of Gaddafi’s downfall.

Haftar has since last year sought to gain control over the west, fighting the GNA in an abortive attempt to seize Tripoli.

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