(Bloomberg) -- Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar rejected an offer by Russia and Turkey for a cease-fire in the country’s nearly nine-year conflict as his forces make new advances.
Haftar’s armed forces are continuing their war on “terrorist groups,” Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for the Libyan general, said in a statement.
Read more - How the Battle for Libya Has Become a Proxy Conflict: QuickTake
On Wednesday, Turkey and Russia, which back opposite sides in an increasingly violent proxy war between regional powers, called for a cease-fire to take effect Jan. 12.
The call to pause hostilities came after Haftar, based in the east of the country, said he seized the coastal city of Sirte -- a symbolic and strategic gain in his 10-month campaign to take Tripoli, seat of the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord, or GNA.
Mohammed Ali Abdallah, the GNA’s adviser for U.S. affairs, also signaled a rejection of the cease-fire proposal.
“The Libyan government wants peace and stability and welcomes any credible cease-fire proposal, but we have a duty to protect the Libyan people as a war criminal wages illegal violence targeting the civilian population and infrastructure,” he said in an email. “The GNA urgently wants to restore peace, and until that is possible, as Libya’s only legitimate and recognized government, we will exercise our lawful right to enter into military alliances and defend our country from attack.”
OPEC member Libya has fractured since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising ousted the country’s former leader, Muammar Qaddafi, with the country effectively divided between competing administrations. Haftar’s forces are supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russian mercenaries, while he GNA is backed by Turkey.
To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Tuttle in Calgary at email@example.com;Mohammed Abdusamee in Cairo at firstname.lastname@example.org;Samer Khalil Al-Atrush in Cairo at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Lin Noueihed at email@example.com, Robert Jameson
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.