Libya's east-based army claims majority control of Libya, aims to eliminate terrorism

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-13 09:47:53|Editor: Yurou
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TRIPOLI, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Libya's east-based army Ahmad al-Mismari said Wednesday that it has controlled the majority of Libyan territories as the armed conflict with the rival United Nations-backed government continues.

"The Libyan Arab Armed Forces control 99 percent of the country, either by having areas where our forces are physically present or by having areas in the range of our air force or artillery," al-Mismari, spokesman for the army, told a press conference late Wednesday in the eastern city Benghazi.

"The army is committed to the ceasefire, but still has the right to firmly respond to any breach to the ceasefire, which explains the clashes that occur from time to time between our forces and terrorist groups," he said.

The spokesman also said that the main problem in the country is not economic or political, but a security problem "caused by militias and terrorists that control certain parts of the country".

"We aim to eliminate terrorism, dismantle militias and take control of all weapons in the country," he said.

Responding to a statement issued by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Wednesday, in which the Mission said the east-based army refused to grant permission for its planes to land in Libya, al-Mismari said that the UNSMIL's planes are "welcome to land in any airport in Libya."

He said that the army did not grant permission for the airplanes to land in the capital Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport because the airport is "fully controlled by a Turkish military commander, who grants such permission."

The east-based army had been leading a military campaign since April 2019 in and around Tripoli, attempting to take over the capital city from the UN-backed government.

The fighting killed and injured thousands of people and forced more than 150,000 civilians to flee their homes.

The rivals agreed to a ceasefire on Jan. 12, but both parties exchanged accusations of breaching the truce.