Officers from rival factions in the Libyan conflict commenced UN-led talks in Geneva on Monday aimed at securing a ceasefire after 10 months of fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli.
The “Libyan Joint Military Commission” includes five senior officers from eastern commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and five officers aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).
Haftar has been waging an offensive since April to take control of Tripoli, where the GNA is based. Fighting displaced more than 150 000 people and seen increasing involvement from foreign powers.
The military talks happen two weeks after an international summit in Berlin focussed on charting a path to a political solution and enforcing a routinely violated UN arms embargo.
Haftar received material support from countries including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Russia, according to UN experts and diplomats, while the government is backed militarily by Turkey.
The LNA delayed appointing representatives for the military talks, but appears to have come round to participating after Turkey supplied air defence systems blunting the air advantage enjoyed by Haftar and his backers, diplomats said.
Haftar’s offensive, which upended a previous UN peace plan, deepened the gulf between loose alliances competing for power from western and eastern Libya since 2014.
There was an escalation in fighting last year and a truce brokered by Russia and Turkey has been repeatedly violated.
The United Nations says weapons and fighters still enter Libya since the Berlin meeting and groups loyal to Haftar imposed a blockade on major oil ports and fields shutting off most of Libya’s oil production.
The Geneva talks are aimed at trust building and working out a monitoring mechanism for a ceasefire, diplomats said. The Geneva talks are moderated by UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé.