23-29: Haftar calls on Libyans to take up arms to remove Turkish forces from Libya

Dec 30, 2020 | Libyan actors

This week was characterised by competing accusations and mobilization activity on the Sirte-Jufra axis, alongside anti-Turkish rhetoric from the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar.

On 24 December 2020 (the 69th anniversary of Libyan Independence), Haftar, issued an address calling on Libyans to take up arms to remove Turkish forces from Libyan soil. Haftar denounced Turkey as a a “coloniser,” stating that “there will be no peace in the presence of a coloniser on our land”, and that, “We will therefore take up arms again to fashion our peace with our own hands… and since Turkey rejects peace and opts for war, we prepare to drive out the occupier by faith, will and weapons.”

On 23 December, the LNA released a statement claiming it had observed large mobilisation of GNA aligned forces and military equipment within proximity of the Sirte-Jufra frontline. On the same day, the GNA’s Sirte-Jufra operations room claimed that LNA forces have been constructing fortifications and mobilising reinforcements around Sirte and Jufra.

On 25 December, GNA-aligned forces and the LNA conducted a prisoner exchange in Shwayrif. This is the first prisoner exchange since the 5+5 Joint Military Committee signed the ceasefire deal in late October which stipulated the exchange of prisoners as a part of the trust building process. 33 LNA prisoners were reportedly exchanged for 18 GNA-aligned prisoners.

On 26 December, the LNA issued a decision to merge both the 666 Battalion (Adiyat) and 134 Battalion, with the 71 Brigade, led by Colonel Ramadan Abu Raqqa.