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Libya Strongman Vows to Continue Assault on Capital Tripoli

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar vowed to press forward with a military campaign whose purported aim is to eliminate “terrorists” in the capital Tripoli, the seat of the United Nations-backed government. The former general under deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi launched the offensive against “private militias and extremist groups,” which he claims have been strengthened by the administration of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. While Haftar has offered amnesty to opponents in Tripoli, the month-long fight has killed more than 500 people, injured thousands more and displaced 75,000 others. In response, a UN mediator suggested that Libya was “committing suicide” and warned that the nation had become a battleground for foreign powers. In this respect, Egypt, the United Emirates and, notably, France all back Haftar, who, they believe, is the sole leader with enough power and influence to unite warring factions and end nearly a decade of post-Gaddafi conflict. Last week, Haftar met with French President Emmanuel Macron and ruled out a cease-fire due to the ongoing presence of armed groups that had “infested” Sarraj’s government.