BENGHAZI, LIBYA – Libyan eastern forces loyal to commander Khalifa Hifter announced on Saturday a cease-fire in the western region, which includes the capital, Tripoli, starting 00:01 a.m. on Sunday and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) agreed to the truce.
Since April, Libyan National Army forces loyal to Hifter have been waging a campaign to take Tripoli, where they are battling forces aligned with the GNA.
In a statement posted online early on Sunday, the Tripoli based GNA said: “In response to the Turkish president and the Russian president’s call for a cease-fire, the head of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord announces a cease-fire starting 00:00 on Jan. 12.”
While the LNA had on Thursday rebuffed a call by Turkey and Russia for a cease-fire in a conflict that is drawing increasing foreign involvement and concern, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said in a video statement late on Saturday that the LNA accepted a truce in the west “provided that the other party abides by the cease-fire.”
He warned that “any breach will be met with a harsh response.”
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the truce and urged the warring parties “to strictly abide by the cease-fire and make a room for peaceful efforts to address all disputes through a Libyan-Libyan dialogue.”
Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA headed by Fayez al-Serraj, while Russian military contractors have been deployed alongside the eastern forces.
A senior GNA official said on Thursday that it welcomed any credible cease-fire proposal but had a duty to protect Libyans from Hifter’s offensive.
Any cease-fire will likely be hard to uphold after a recent escalation in fighting around Tripoli and the strategic coastal city of Sirte and given the fractious, loose nature of Libya’s military alliances.
Forces loyal to Hifter said earlier in the week they had taken control of Sirte in a rapid advance preceded by airstrikes.
Earlier on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Libyan peace talks will be held in Berlin, adding that Libya’s warring parties would need to play a major role to help find a solution.
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