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30.01.2020 Libya

Libya: UN envoy slams violations of pledge to end foreign meddling

UN special representative for Libya Ghassan Salame  warns that continued foreign meddling in the country's conflict threatens to fuel
LISTEN JAN 30, 2020
UN special representative for Libya Ghassan Salame warns that continued foreign meddling in the country's conflict threatens to fuel "a new and much more dangerous conflagration". By Michael Kappeler (POOL/AFP/File)

A UN envoy accused foreign actors Thursday of continuing to meddle in Libya's conflict, in violation of commitments made at an international summit in Berlin this month.

Speaking before the UN Security Council, Ghassan Salame warned that "these maneuvers to resupply the two parties threaten to precipitate a new and much more dangerous conflagration."

"They violate the spirit and the letter of the Berlin Conference," Salame said in an impassioned briefing in front of the 15-member council.

"I urge the parties and their foreign sponsors to desist from reckless actions and instead renew their expressed commitment to work towards a ceasefire," he added.

His comments came as a French military source said France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier this week spotted a Turkish frigate escorting a cargo ship delivering armored vehicles to the Libyan capital Tripoli in defiance of a UN embargo.

The cargo ship Bana docked in Tripoli port on Wednesday, said the source, who asked not to be named.

World leaders committed to ending all foreign interference and to uphold a weapons embargo to help end Libya's long-running civil war during a summit in the German capital on January 19.

Salame said he was "deeply worried" by military reinforcements to both sides in the conflict despite the pledge to halt arms shipments to the belligerents.

He said they raised "the specter of a broader conflict engulfing the wider region."

Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The warring parties are led by strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli's UN-recognized government, Fayez al-Sarraj.

"(They) have continued to receive a sizable amount of advanced equipment, fighters and advisors from foreign sponsors," Salame said.

He cited in particular the reinforcement of Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) forces in Tripoli, including arms, equipment and soldiers, including foreign fighters.

Haftar has the support of Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) is backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Salame said foreign fighters supportive of the GNA have been flown to Tripoli "by the thousands and deployed in forward locations, alongside Libyan forces.

"As recently as Tuesday, the presence of foreign naval assets including warships, was witnessed off the coast of Tripoli, in addition to cargo ships," he added.

Salame said his mission had recorded more than 110 reported violations of a fragile ceasefire backed by both Ankara and Moscow that was put in place on January 12.