MOSCOW – The Commander-in-Cheif of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar was in Moscow on the afternoon of Thursday the 11th of April, for an unofficial visit to the capital Moscow to meet with a number of high-level officials in Russia’s Ministry of Defense, a military source in the LNA says.
FRN has confirmed the visit of Khalifa Haftar to Russia, which came about a week after his army launched a large-scale operation in the Western Libya as well as in Tripoli that has been long dominated by the armed groups loyal to the west’s recognized GNA unity government, or Government of National Accord which has achieved neither unity nor governance in the failed state formally still known as Libya.
According to a statement by the LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari, an advance is aimed to purge the country’s West from terrorists and different armed militias operating there.
The LNA started a military campaign on Friday, April 5 after the Libyan Marshal addressed to all the troops involved in an operation, stressing “the need to pursue “the march of struggle” targeting “oppressors” who “provoke havoc in the capital”. “It’s time to peacefully enter Tripoli,” Haftar also added, guaranteed that all people are safe, except for those who resort to armed confrontation with the army.
As of Thursday, fierce clashes still continued on a few directions in the district of Ain Zara, 12 km southeast of Tripoli, and in the areas surrounding Al-Aziziya city and Tripoli’s Int’l airport in the southwest. Earlier, the LNA managed to take over the cities of Ghariyan, Surman, Sabratha and Tarhouna, in addition to a number of locations inside the capital.
On late Sunday, the Government of National Accord headed by Fayez Sarraj announced a counterattack called ‘Anger of Volcano” to halt the LNA’s further advance and regain control over previously lost territories. As FRN has reported, this counterattack was known to be showing serious signs of falter as of Friday the 12th of April.
The international community, including the US, the UK, France, Italy and Russia, expressed their concern over an increased unrest in Libya and called the warring parties for a complete cessation of hostilities, emphasizing that there could be no military solution to the Libyan crisis, but a political one.
Russia is supposed to be one of the allies of Khalifa Haftar, along with Egypt, UAE and France. However, Moscow takes a sensitive approach to the Libyan settlement, officially keeping a balance between all key players in Libya.
In late November, Khalifa Haftar held talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The parties reviewed the Libyan crisis and the security situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa. It is widely believed that he obtained a large cache of ammunition and high-end infantry support equipment and weaponry at that time.