Insurgent Libyan leader Khalifa Haftar leaves peace talks in Russia without signing cease-fire

Jan. 14 (UPI) — Fighting in Libya could go on for at least the near future, after insurgent military leader Khalifa Haftar left peace talks in Russia without signing a cease-fire agreement with Tripoli’s United Nations-backed government forces.

Haftar said he left to review the deal, but later told Al Arabiya TV it doesn’t address some of the Libya National Army’s key concerns.

“The draft [agreement] ignores many of the Libyan army’s demands,” he said after the discussions, which were brokered by Russia and Turkey.

The development follows what appeared to be a breakthrough on Monday, when Russia and Turkey expected the cease-fire to be signed. Fayez al-Sarraj, head of Libya’s Government of National Accord, signed the agreement on Monday.

In indirect talks with the GNA, Haftar demanded his LNA troops be allowed into the city to form a unity government that would receive a vote of confidence from lawmakers.

Haftar called for international monitoring without Turkey, which also backs the Libyan government. Al-Sarraj, however, has demanded the LNA retreat from current positions and that the government keep control of the armed forces.

“All efforts now taken by Europeans … we want to piece them all together so that everyone acts in one direction and urges all Libyan parties to reach agreements rather than sort things out militarily,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Haftar for walking away from the deal, and said Ankara will “teach him a lesson” if he continues the LNA fight against government forces. Haftar’s forces launched an offensive last April in an attempt to take over Libyan government strongholds in the capital.

“We will not hesitate to teach a lesson to the putchist Haftar if he continues his attacks on the country’s legitimate administration and our brothers in Libya,” Erdogan said.

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