Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan warlord bombarding Tripoli in an attempt to oust the country’s UN-recognised government, has won unequivocal support from the Egyptian leader, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, his closest political ally.
“The president affirmed Egypt’s support in efforts to fight terrorism and extremist militias to achieve security and stability for Libyan citizens throughout the country,” Sisi’s office said on Sunday.
It is thought Haftar also has the private support of leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Cairo meeting came amid reports the Italian security services were warning that Libya could become “another Syria”, as fighting and general instability could prompt thousands more people to try to flee across the Mediterranean to Europe.
Haftar has defied international calls to halt his battle against fighters loyal to the government of national accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, the capital. The warlord supports a parallel administration based in Libya’s east. Egypt has provided funding and arms to Haftar’s “Libyan National Army”, seeing him as a bulwark against Islamist militants.
As fighting raged in the capital, the death toll since Haftar’s assault began on Thursday was put at 121 by the UN World Health Organization, with nearly 600 wounded. More than 13,000 civilians have been displaced by the fighting, which has included air raids that have hit schools.
In a message directed at Haftar, the UN’s special envoy for Libya, Ghassan…
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