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Libyan rebel commander leaves Moscow without signing peace deal

Attempts to broker a ceasefire between the sides to the Libyan conflict have failed in Russia, Moscow has confirmed, as the head of rebel forces in Libya leaves the peace talks.

Russia and Turkey have been trying to broker a halt to fighting between the Libyan government and rebel militia under the command of General Khalifa Haftar.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Haftar held about eight hours of indirect talks mediated by Moscow and Ankara in the Russian capital on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that, despite the drafting of an agreement, Haftar had left without signing the deal.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Haftar had on Monday evening asked for until Tuesday morning to look over the agreement — already signed by Sarraj — but left the Russian capital without signing it.

On Saturday, the two sides had agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia. But that agreement unraveled soon after implementation time, as both sides accused each other of violating the truce.

Russia ‘to continue pushing for ceasefire’

Commenting on Haftar’s departure, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow would continue pushing for a ceasefire agreement in Libya.

“We will pursue our efforts in this direction. For now, a definitive result has not been achieved,” he said at a news conference in Colombo on Tuesday.

Since 2014, Libya has been divided between two rival camps: the government in Tripoli, and a camp based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

This handout picture, released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on January 13, 2020, shows Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu shaking hands with Libyan rebel commander Khalifa Haftar, in Moscow, Russia. (Via AFP)

Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, is the self-proclaimed commander of an array of militia groups apparently supporting the eastern camp. He launched an offensive to capture Tripoli and oust the government in April.

His forces have been bogged down near the capital, yet he has pledged to continue the offensive.

The government has sought help from ally Turkey, which has deployed troops to Libya even as it has been involved in the peace attempts with Russia.

Meanwhile, Germany is set to hold a summit on January 19 aimed at promoting peace in Libya, which is the launching pad for refugees to Europe.

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