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Mismari to Asharq Al-Awsat: LNA Mulling Cessation of Hostilities in Tripoli over Virus Concerns

Mismari to Asharq Al-Awsat: LNA Mulling Cessation of Hostilities in Tripoli over Virus Concerns

Friday, 20 March, 2020 - 10:30
LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari. Reuters file photo
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat

Major General Ahmed Al-Mismari, spokesman for the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, said that the Army’s general command was “mulling calls by the UN mission, friendly countries, and the Libyan people for an immediate cessation of hostilities” in Tripoli to confront the novel coronavirus.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Mismari said he expected the Army leadership to make a decision “in the coming hours”, despite many obstacles, mainly “ongoing threats and the rising number of Syrian mercenaries and Turkish elements in Libyan territories.”

“This epidemic is spreading very quickly in the world, and if all mankind does not stand up to it, it may destroy peoples and even entire countries,” he underlined.

“A ceasefire may be acceptable under these circumstances. But there’s no decision yet because the General Command is still studying the matter.”

The National Army spokesman reiterated that Turkish and Syrian mercenaries constitute a major threat to the country.

Asked about the Libyan Army, the spokesman said that the LNA has more than 85,000 members, including officers and soldiers in all grades and fields.

“Most of them are former military personnel and members of the old military establishment,” he explained, “but new blood has also been injected into the Army, estimated at 25,000-30,000 officers and non-commissioned officers.”

As for militias in the West, Mismari said: “I cannot provide an estimate of their numbers, as they do not operate in an organized manner, rather based on funding.”

He revealed that the National Army has had 7,000 martyrs, noting that this number was not only the result of the Tripoli battle, but the outcome of all previous clashes in Benghazi, Derna, and other cities.

As for the wounded and those who sustained injuries resulting in a disability, their number might exceed 1,000, according to the Army spokesperson.

He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that there were around 75 to 80 army soldiers, who were taken captive by terrorist groups and taken to prisons in Misrata, Tripoli, Al-Zawiyah and Gharyan.

On the Army’s funding sources, Mismari denied rumors that the LNA was using the people’s resources in the East and the South.

“The Army has agencies that include the newly-activated military investment department, which has several agricultural and industrial projects,” he explained.

He also stressed that the armed forces have the right to make investment and development projects, “especially since the Army has huge expenditures and needs additional revenues.”

Asked about the National Army’s plan after the capital’s liberation, Mismari said: “The General Command believes that after the liberation of Tripoli, a national unity government will be formed, approved by the current Libyan parliament, and will have specific duties and tasks, such as providing rapid services to the citizens, resolving crises, and also beginning to prepare for the elections.”

“We are working hard to protect citizens. This can only be achieved by disarming illegitimate groups and fighting terrorism,” he stated.

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