Libya’s Haftar announces Ramadhan truce

BENGHAZI, LIBYA (AFP) – Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar said on Wednesday his forces would cease hostilities for the holy month of Ramadhan following international calls for a truce in the war-torn country.

“The commander general announces the halting of military operations from his side,” a spokesman for Haftar, who controls swathes of eastern and southern Libya, said from the eastern city of Benghazi.

Haftar’s rival, the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) had yet to respond, and an AFP correspondent reported hearing explosions in the centre of the capital Tripoli after the announcement.

The call for a truce during Ramadhan, which began in Libya on April 24, came in response to “appeals from friendly nations”, the Haftar spokesman said.

He warned violations by the GNA would be met with an “immediate and harsh response”.

Last week, the UN, European Union (EU) and several countries called for both sides to lay down their arms during Ramadhan.

The announcement comes after pro-Haftar forces suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks, with GNA forces ousting them from two key coastal cities west of Tripoli.

Backed by Turkey, GNA troops are now encircling Haftar’s main rear base at Tarhunah, 60 kilometres southeast of the capital.