Anniversary of ‘liberation’ of Tripoli marked in Libya

Hundreds of people gathered in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, to celebrate the city’s complete freedom from Khalifa Haftar’s militia. 

Residents gathered in the city’s Martyr’s Square late Thursday, brandishing Libyan flags and victory banners. 

They also sang anti-Haftar slogans such as “the blood of the martyrs is not in vain” and other slogans against Haftar.

The Libyan army said on Thursday that Tripoli, the capital of the internationally recognized government, had been liberated. 

The Libyan Army reclaimed Tripoli International Airport from Haftar’s militants on Wednesday. 

The Libyan government began Operation Peace Storm in March to resist attacks on the capital, and has since reclaimed critical places such as the Al-Watiya airbase and Tarhuna city, dealing a huge setback to Haftar’s forces.

After dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed rebellion in 2011, the oil-rich country slid into anarchy, with several parties fighting for power. 

Libya has been split in recent years between two opposing regimes backed by foreign forces and a slew of militias. 

The two camps agreed to a truce in Geneva in October, after Turkey-backed forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli routed those of eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar. 

Since then, the security situation in Libya has gradually improved.

However, the United Nations recently warned that progress has slowed, particularly on a critical requirement for the elections: the withdrawal of all foreign troops. 

Foreign fighters have been urged to leave by Western politicians on numerous occasions. 

However, Russian mercenaries helping Haftar’s side in the country’s east remain in place. 

Meanwhile, Turkey has troops in Tripoli, which it claims were dispatched under a bilateral arrangement with the government, meaning that they are unaffected by the government’s request for foreign troops to depart. 

According to Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, any withdrawal is also a delicate balancing act.

He stated that there is an understanding between the Turkish and Russian sides that “when withdrawal begins, it will not be a short period of time when everyone will immediately pull back… but that it will be a step-by-step approach”.

The danger is that an uneven and abrupt retreat will create a military imbalance that the opposite side will exploit for a surprise offensive. 

Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, also stated that the process “will take some time.” 

Nonetheless, Maas stated that Germany and the UN will continue to work to ensure that foreign militants leave the country.

“We will not rest until the last foreign force — the soldiers and mercenaries, no matter where they come from… have left the country.”


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