Egypt's Sisi meets Libyan commander Haftar in Cairo
15 April, 2019, 04:55 | Author: Myra Gill
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates publicly support U.N. -led peace efforts in Libya, while being seen as Haftar's closest regional allies.
Sisi has been an ardent supporter of Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Accord (LNA), which control swathes of eastern Libya and launched an offensive on 4 April to take the capital where the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) is based.
Coinciding with the Sisi-Haftar meeting in the Egyptian capital, the UN's envoy to Libya said on Sunday that the body's position on ending the country's turmoil would "not change".
Sisi, a former army chief, has led a far-reaching crackdown on Islamists with Egypt and has blamed Libya-based militants for some cross-border attacks.
The Libyan commander has modeled his political style of authoritarian leadership after Sissi, himself an army general turned president. By moving forces west, his eastern home base is exposed and it may be hard for Haftar to retreat without losing standing among friends and foes alike.
While some pro-Haftar media had predicted a quick victory, Tripoli government forces have halted him about 11 km (7 miles) from the center near an airport that was largely destroyed in a previous bout of fighting five years ago.
Analysts believe the campaign on Tripoli could potentially reignite large-scale fighting among the country's rival powers and undermine global efforts to reunite the fractured North African nation. It did not specify whether they were fighters or civilians.
Haftar has defied worldwide calls to halt his battle against fighters loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord based in Tripoli.
The fighting has killed 121 people, mainly fighters, and wounded another 561, according to United Nations tallies.
More than 13,500 people had been displaced by the clashes, while more than 900 residents are living in shelters, according to the UN's office for humanitarian affairs, or OCHA.
Medical personnel have been targeted in the clashes, with three medical workers killed and eight ambulances damaged since fighting began, according to the UN.
United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame said a school was bombed in the town of Ain Zara, around 15 kilometres southeast of Tripoli, without saying who was responsible. Both sides have carried out airstrikes on the town, and a spokesman for the Libya National Army said it has stepped up strikes on its rivals in the past two days.
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