Rebel general to launch attack on Islamists in Tripoli

10 July 2014

Khalifa Haftar calls for General National Congress to be tried as criminals

Anti-jihadist rogue general Khalifa Haftar is planning to launch operations in Libya’s capital and the eastern city of Derna.

The general has been waging a fierce war in Benghazi against Islamist brigades including Ansar al-Sharia, the militant group accused of carrying out the 2012 raid on the US embassy that killed ambassador Chris Stevens.

“Derna, which is dominated by Ansar al-Sharia, is going to be next, then the capital,” he told The Times in an interview.

“We have destroyed all the militia bases around the [eastern] cities, which is more than 50 per cent of [the jihadists’] presence on the ground.”

Although Haftar’s operations have not been authorised by the central government, he has thousands of members of Libya’s army and air force under his command. According to the general and his allies, he has a force of more than 70,000 fighters including members of Libya’s army and air force.

The rogue general says he will recognise and protect the new parliament, which is due to hold its opening session in Benghazi in August, but he wants to see the group of 200 people who made up the outgoing parliament to be tried as criminals.

The announcement of Haftar’s plan to launch military operations in Tripoli comes amid hopes that Libya could soon ramp up oil exports.

Rebels handed back two of Libya’s biggest oil terminals on 2 July and on 8 July, state-owned National Oil Corporation announced that the 340,000 barrel-a-day (b/d) El-Sharara oil field had resumed operations.

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