Khalifa Haftar's army has arrested one of the most important Daesh leaders in the country

Libya's new military offensive against Daesh

photo_camera Atalayar_Ofensiva Daesh Libia

On Sunday, the army led by Khalifa Haftar managed to capture Mohamed Miloud Mohamed - also known as Abu Omar - one of the most important leaders of Daesh. The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) carried out an offensive targeting the leader of the terrorist organisation who was one of the main protagonists of the seizure of the Libyan city of Sirte in 2015, after which they tried to turn it into the most solid bastion of Daesh in the country.

The attack organised by Haftar took place just two days after the meeting of the United Nations Security Council in which the Libyan crisis was discussed. The UN called for "the withdrawal without further delay of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya". They also stressed respect for the ceasefire agreement reached on 23 October 2020: "The Security Council calls on all parties to fully implement the ceasefire agreement (of 23 October) and urges member states to respect and support the full implementation of the agreement", according to the statement issued by the United Nations. 

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The UN itself says that at the end of last year there were still more than 20,000 soldiers and mercenaries on Libyan soil. So far there has been no movement to withdraw, so "the Security Council calls for full compliance with the UN arms embargo by all member states, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions". The embargo referred to in the official statement has been in place since 2011, but has been systematically violated since then, according to the UN experts in charge of the investigations. Among the armed groups reportedly still present in Libya are Syrians, Chadians and Sudanese, as well as mercenaries from Russia and Turkey.

In June, a group of UN experts called on the parties to the Libyan conflict to "stop recruiting, financing and deploying" mercenaries and called for their crimes to be investigated and prosecuted. However, Erik Prince, a mercenary and founder of Blackwater - close to former US President Donald Trump - violated the arms embargo in 2019, according to a confidential report uncovered by The New York Times and the Washington Post. That report, now in the hands of the UN, says Prince was in charge of deploying a small force of armed Western mercenaries in eastern Libya, all of them under Khalifa Haftar in an operation that could amount to as much as $80 million. 

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In addition to this operation, UN sources indicate that at least 1,200 Russians were also placed at the disposal of the Libyan National Army. These were hired by private Russian military companies, such as Wagner, focusing their efforts on taking out the Government of National Accord (GNA). Russian reinforcements join the mercenaries of the Al Asad regime, the Janjaweed militia from Darfur and extremist Salafists of Madjalism from Saudi Arabia. 

Atalayar_Halifa Jaftar Daesh Libia

Add to all these complications the ever-present regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In February, the Turkish foreign ministry vetoed the registration of two merchant ships suspected of being used for illegal transports to North Africa. According to various sources, Ankara fears that the EU operation in the Mediterranean could harm the government of Fayez al Serraj, which is supported by Erdogan's government and with which Haftar's leadership is disputing control of Libya.

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