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Egypt set to enter Libyan conflict on side of Haftar

EGYPT has been given the green light to enter the Libyan conflict by the Tobruk-based government, which supports the Libyan National Army (LNA), headed by General Khalifa Haftar.

A statement issued by Tobruk late on Monday said: “We call for joint efforts between the two brotherly nations, Libya and Egypt, in order to defeat the occupier and maintain our common security and stability in our country and region.

“The Egyptian armed forces have the right to intervene to protect Libyan and Egyptian national security if they see an imminent threat to the security of our two countries.”

The eastern-based parliament welcomed the comments made by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi last month in which he said troops could enter Libya, warning the Tripoli-based rival Government of National Accord (GNA) against crossing the front line.

The GNA hit back, denouncing Mr Sissi’s statement as “a declaration of war.”

Egypt has stepped up military exercises with a drill taking place about 37 miles from the Libyan border as part of operations codenamed Resolve 2020.

A peace deal with a path to a political settlement to the conflict and demands for a unilateral ceasefire was proposed by Egypt last month. It was welcomed by the Arab League, Russia and Saudi Arabia. But the GNA and Turkey rejected it, and battle continues to rage.

Gen Haftar’s forces had been vying for control of the capital Tripoli, but the early successes of the LNA were repelled following the intervention of Turkey.

Ankara signed a military and maritime deal with the GNA in December and has since flooded Libya with thousands of jihadist fighters drawn from the battlefield of Syria, pushing back the LNA.

The front line has shifted to the strategic city of Sirte, with the LNA imposing a blockade on production and exports of oil since January.

United Arab Emirates foreign affairs spokesman Anwar Gargash said: “The drums of the war raging around Sirte in Libya threaten serious developments and dangerous humanitarian and political consequences.

He called for an “immediate ceasefire and for wisdom to prevail” with peace talks taking place within international frameworks.

His hopes appear to be in vain, however, as Turkey has previously ruled out a ceasefire until Sirte and the Jufra air base are relinquished by the LNA.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “There are preparations for an operation, but we are trying the [negotiation] table.

“If there is no withdrawal, there is already a military preparation; [the GNA] will show all determination here.”

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