Haftar's forces 100 km south of Tripoli, media reports

Clashes Wednesday evening with Sarraj's forces, Misurata prepare

04 April, 13:17

    TUNIS - A spokesman for the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar said on Thursday that troops have entered the city of Gharyan, 100 km south of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

    The troop movement comes after local media reported on Wednesday night that armed clashes took place between Haftar's forces and those of Fayez Al Sarraj's government of national accord, and that there were troop movements in various directions in Tripoli.

    The LNA spokesman, Ahmed al Mismari, said "our men were given a celebratory welcome by local residents".

    In recent days, Haftar had launched a "campaign to rid the country's west of the presence of criminal militias".

    The national unity government's Presidential Council issued a declaration on Wednesday evening in which it denounced Haftar's orders to his troops to advance towards Tripoli, calling the orders "provocative announcements" because they urge forces to "liberate the capital", said the website Libyan Observer.

    The entrance into Gharyan took place on Wednesday night.

    However, on Thursday a tweet by Libya Observer, which is hostile to Haftar's forces, said the general's troops had "retreated to Jandouba area in the southern part of the city as western Libyan forces mobilize troops to attack them".

    Forces in Misrata, the city with the most military power in the country, are also preparing to react to the advance of Haftar's troops.

    Another tweet by Libya Observer on Thursday said, "all Misrata forces held an emergency meeting today" to agree on a "unified reaction" to the deployment of Haftar's troops in the western part of the country.

    It also tweeted that the military council in the city of Zintan "mobilizes forces to repel east Libya invaders".

    The movement's of Haftar's forces and the clashes with those of Sarraj send a bad sign just 10 days ahead of the UN-backed National Conference on Libya, scheduled for April 14-16 in the southwest city of Ghadames, with only Libyan participants.

    The conference is supposed to generate an agreement on elections in order to resolve the Libyan crisis that has been going on in fits and starts since the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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