Libya’s internationally recognised government will push back Khalifa Haftar’s eastern forces attacking Tripoli, its interior minister told Reuters.
“The GNA (Government of National Accord) and its forces do not want Tripoli subject to shelling every day and it will move the forces (of Haftar) away from Tripoli,” Fathi Bashagha said in an interview with Reuters.
Bombardment around the capital intensified in recent days and shelling repeatedly closed the capital’s only functioning airport at Mitiga, held by the GNA.
The escalation is the most serious since the announcement of a ceasefire on January 12 and Bashagha said the GNA believed Haftar had launched a new assault.
“On Friday, more than 60 missiles dropped on Mitiga and 60 dropped on Tripoli on Saturday so now he begins his attack,” Bashagha said. “Our defence will move to attack because there is no hope for the ceasefire”.
Asked if the GNA would begin a military offensive in the coming days, he said “definitely”.
Haftar began his assault on Tripoli last year after advancing from his stronghold in eastern Libya with help from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.
Turkey in January sent some forces and allied Syrian fighters to support the GNA. Bashagha said this “created a military balance” which should bring Haftar to dialogue.
Bashagha called on the US and Britain to pressure countries supporting Haftar and said Libya faced a major humanitarian crisis if the international community did not intervene.