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Haftar promises to take Tripoli 'in hours' if Egypt sends troops to Libya Open in fullscreen

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Haftar promises to take Tripoli 'in hours' if Egypt sends troops to Libya

Egypt's Sisi hosted East Libya-based military commander Khalifa Haftar in April [Anadolu/Getty]

Date of publication: 1 January, 2020

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Rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar told Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi that if Egypt sent troops to support his fighters, they would take the capital Tripoli 'in hours'.
Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar asked Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi for military support as his forces failed to capture Libya's capital, Egyptian sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

Haftar appealed to Egypt's political leadership while on a two-day visit to the country with Speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Aqila Saleh.

President Sisi met with Haftar at the Federal Palace, sources revealed to The New Arab, where they discussed the eastern general's ongoing assault on Libya's capital Tripoli.

Libya has been mired in conflict since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for power.

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive in April to take the capital from the internationally recognised government, making rapid gains before being stalled on the edge of the capital.

Haftar told Sisi that if Egypt provided soldiers, the battle for Libya's capital would be resolved within a few hours. Currently, Cairo only provides Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) with logistical support as they battle militias backing the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar further demanded Egypt mobilise the international community to prevent Turkish troops from entering the Libyan conflict.

The Libyan general reportedly told Sisi "by the time the first batch of Turkish soldiers arrive in Libya, the battle will be over, and you find Erdogan's soldiers on your border," a source who was briefed on Haftar's meeting in Cairo told The New Arab.

Read more: Turkey's military involvement in Libya: Do desperate times call for desperate measures?

The Arab League, in a Tuesday meeting at its Cairo headquarters requested by Egypt, called for efforts to "prevent foreign interference" in Libya, in the wake of military and maritime agreements signed by Turkey with the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

Permanent representatives of the pan-Arab organisation passed a resolution "stressing the necessity to prevent interference that could contribute to facilitating the arrival of foreign extremists in Libya".

On Monday, the UN's Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, said the deals signed by Turkey and the Tripoli government represented an "escalation" of the conflict wracking the North African country.

In November, Ankara signed a security and military cooperation deal and also inked a maritime jurisdiction agreement with the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital.

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: Turkey's intervention in Libya to expand 'regional goals'

In addition, Turkey is preparing to hold a vote in parliament on deploying troops in support of the GNA which is battling forces of eastern military strongman Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

Egypt, in a letter sent to the United Nations last week, said it considers the Ankara-Tripoli agreements "void and without legal effect", adding that foreign military involvement in Libya amounted to a violation of a UN arms embargo in force since the uprising.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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