Forces loyal to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar described as “media marketing” a cease-fire announced Friday by the internationally backed government, but didn’t explicitly say whether they’d accept or reject the initiative.
Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army is ready to defend Sirte, the central city that’s the gateway to the OPEC member’s key oil assets, spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said Sunday in a televised address. Intelligence received by the LNA suggests the “intentions of the enemy to attack our forces in the regions of Sirte and Jufra,” he said.
Friday’s cease-fire announcement by the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, and a reciprocal call the head of the eastern-based parliament, followed United Nations-mediated talks seeking to end more than a year of conflict in the North African nation.
Haftar’s forces, which have been backed by Russian mercenaries, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, fell back to Sirte after a failed offensive to capture, Tripoli, the capital and home to the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord.