11:19 GMT26 October 2020
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    The Libyan National Army (LNA) has prepared to launch an offensive against Tripoli where the main forces of Islamic extremists are currently concentrated, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari told Sputnik. The LNA spokesman underscored that only Libyans themselves can bring an end to the ongoing crisis.

    The liberation of Tripoli is the major goal of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for LNA told Sputnik.

    "Tripoli is [the LNA'] strategic objective in its operation to combat terrorism," al-Mismari underscored, "the main forces of [Islamist] militants are concentrated in the city, hidden under other names."

    "We held a press conference [Thursday], marked the areas with the highest concentration of terrorists, gathered all affordable information about them and worked out the plan of our future operation," he said.

    Last Friday protests broke out in Tripoli after a woman was gang-raped by Islamist militants, London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported Monday.

    Commenting on the issue al-Mismari stressed that it is not the first time when Libyan women have fallen victim to armed extremists in Tripoli.

    "Every self-respecting Libyan and Arab is obliged to respond [to this brutality]. [Libyan National Army] General Khalifa Haftar cannot allow such things to happen in Libya, therefore he ordered the army units located near Tripoli to prepare for an offensive," the LNA spokesperson underscored.

    Some observers speculate that the LNA's decision to liberate Tripoli could be somehow connected with Haftar's November visit to Russia.

    Haftar and Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the country's internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk, visited Russia in late November.

    In the course of his visit Haftar gave an interview to Sputnik.

    The General pointed out that the Libyan army will require Russia's assistance once a UN arms embargo on Libya is lifted. In 2011 the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Libya including the embargo on an arms trade with the country.

    "Many of our military experts studied in Russia. But in the future, when the embargo is lifted and the deliveries of advanced weapons begin, we will need Russian weapons experts for military training," Haftar said, adding that Russia is currently adhering to the arms embargo.

    Fighters of Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government gather as they advance against Islamic State holdouts in Ghiza Bahriya district in Sirte, Libya December 1, 2016.
    © REUTERS / Ismail Zitouny
    Fighters of Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government gather as they advance against Islamic State holdouts in Ghiza Bahriya district in Sirte, Libya December 1, 2016.

    On November 29 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a meeting with Haftar on the military-political situation in Libya. Following the meeting the Russian Foreign Ministry signaled that Moscow is ready to contribute to the promotion of the political process to settle the Libyan crisis.

    Speaking to Sputnik the LNA spokesman highlighted the importance of the Russo-Libyan collaboration.

    "Our two countries have long maintained close relations. Recently, we have begun restoring and bolstering ties between our countries," al-Mismari emphasized.

    He called attention to the fact that Russia is well-informed about the situation on the ground in Libya.

    "We answered all the questions asked by Russian generals about the situation in Libya, so that now they are well aware of the real situation on the ground," he stressed, adding that the LNA's fight against terrorism is an urgent necessity.

    "What we need the most is the UN to lift the ban on arms supplies to Libya," al-Mismari highlighted.

    He stressed that only Libyans can bring an end to the conflict simmering in the country.

    For his part, Aguila Saleh reiterated in his Friday interview with Sputnik that Libya strongly opposes the deployment of foreign troops in Libya.

    "We will not allow any foreign troops [to be deployed] on our territory. This is unacceptable," Saleh said, stressing that the country had "a strong army ready to fight, if they are provided with arms."

    Commenting on the upcoming military operation against Islamists in Tripoli al-Mismari stressed that the rights of ordinary civilians in the region will be fully respected.

    "I want to assure the residents of the eastern part of Libya [the Tripoli region] that the military operation will take place precisely in Tripoli where Islamist extremists are concentrated. These people are dangerous for the country," the LNA spokesperson said, stressing that the rights and interests of civilians will be respected.   

    Al-Mismari explained that the LNA is now facing fierce resistance not only from Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) but also from al-Qaeda. He cited one of the militants captured during the LNA military operation.

    "He told us the following: 'We pin our great hopes on sleeping cells in Benghazi which will launch their offensive from the desert, they will be unstoppable'," the LNA spokesman said.

    Still, the Libyan Army is ready to fight.

    "The operation plan has been developed, the logistics support has been organized, our personnel are ready… We have deployed our Air Force close to Tripoli. The fight will be fast," he said. 


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    jihadists, Islamic extremism, Islamists, Libyan army, Daesh, UN Security Council, Russian Foreign Ministry, al-Qaeda, Aguila Saleh, Ahmed Mismari, Khalifa Haftar, Sergei Lavrov, Libya, US, Russia, Tripoli
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