06:02 GMT25 November 2020
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    CAIRO (Sputnik) - The spokesman for the Libyan National Army (LNA), Mismari, was quoted as saying by the Sky News Arabia that Qatar and Turkey should not have been invited to the Palermo conference since they only sought to "defend the interests of terrorists" that they support in the country.

    "The conference concerns Libya and was hosted by Italy. What does Qatar have to do with this? What does Turkey have to do with this?… These countries attended [the conference] in order to defend the interests of terrorist groups," the spokesman for the LNA, which backs Libya's Tobruk-based parliament, Ahmed Mismari said late on Wednesday, as quoted by the Sky News Arabia broadcaster.

    READ MORE: 'Good Photo Op': Despite UN Hype, Palermo Summit on Libya Achieves Little

    The official's statement comes after the international conference, organized by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, which was held in Palermo on the Italian island of Sicily on Monday and Tuesday. It was attended, among others, by representatives of the two opposing Libyan governments — the head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Sarraj, and LNA commander Khalifa Haftar.

    Qatar was represented at the conference by Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. The Turkish delegation, led by the country's vice president, Fuat Oktay, left the conference early, expressing its disappointment over its exclusion from some meetings.

    Mismari has repeatedly accused Qatar, Turkey and Sudan of supporting extremist groups operating in Libya. In particular, the spokesman said that Doha had been training militants from al-Qaeda terrorist organization (outlawed in Russia) and supported attacks on Libya's Ras Lanuf and As Sidr oil ports in June.

    Libya, which has been engulfed in a civil conflict since 2011, is currently divided between the two governments, with the eastern part of the country controlled by the Tobruk-based parliament supported by the LNA, and Sarraj's GNA, which governs Libya's west from the capital Tripoli.

    In late August, violence escalated in and around Tripoli, as opposing militant groups renewed clashes with each other. Shortly afterwards, the United States announced that it had brokered a ceasefire agreement, but media have since reported that the warring sides continued clashes in violation of the accord.


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