19 May 2014

Libya: Special Forces Unit Joins Rogue General Haftar

The commander of the Libyan army's special forces says his troops are joining forces with renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who has vowed to rid the country of militant Islamists and eradicate "terrorism."

"We are joining the battle of 'dignity' launched by the Libyan National Army with all our men and weapons," Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada said on Monday, using the name of the operation launched by Haftar.

The government in Tripoli has denounced Haftar for attempting to stage a coup in the North African country. On Friday, his troops attacked militants in Benghazi in an operation that killed more than 70 people.

The special forces are the best-trained fighters in Libya's army. They had previously been used to curb the number of car bombings and assassinations in Benghazi last year, but have struggled to combat the many militias around the city.

Parliamentary halt

In response to Libya's current political unrest and violence, the government on Monday proposed that parliament should temporarily halt its work.

An open letter published on the government's website said the General National Congress (GNC) should "take a recess after the vote on the 2014 budget and until new parliamentary elections" within three months so the country does not descend into civil war.

The move comes a day after parliament was attacked by armed groups that were calling for its dissolution. Two people were killed and 50 injured in the violence, which the government said "bore no signs of any link" with the Haftar-led attack on Friday.

Following the GNC attack the government called for "an immediate end to the use of the military arsenal, the property of the Libyan people, in fighting to express political views."

Libya's government and army have struggled to bring former militias and rebels in the country under control since the 2011 NATO-led uprising that toppled longtime leader Muammer Gadhafi, and security remains poor.

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