Libya’s counterterrorism force condemns U.N. envoy’s ‘terrorist’ statements

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 5 (UPI) — The United Nations envoy to Libya and the country’s Counter Terrorism Force are at odds after the envoy Ghassan Salame asserted that there were extremists fighting within the ranks of forces loyal to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord.

Gen. Khalifa Haftar supports the opposing House of Representatives government in Tobruk in eastern Libya. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/

Salame’s comments come as gunmen loyal to the self-styled Libyan National Army — under the leadership of renegade Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who supports the opposing House of Representatives government in Tobruk in the east — continue to battle GNA forces after Hafter vowed to rid the Libyan capital of “terrorists” when his troops invaded in early April.

The ongoing fighting has killed well over a thousand people and displaced and injured thousands more, with neither side gaining the upper hand.

Salame’s comments have annoyed the counterterrorism unit because they echo what arch foe Hafter says. They further assert that the GNA and its supporters have been legitimized by the international community and are the ones actually responsible for fighting terrorism, including the battles fought in Sirte in 2016 against Islamic State elements, as well as defending the capital from the invading LNA.

Meanwhile, as the fighting and bloodshed continue, the European Union high representative for security and foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, has warned that the indiscriminate attacks on highly populated areas are war crimes, underlining that the perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice.

“The EU urges all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, including migrants and refugees, and to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance and services to all those affected by the fighting,” Mogherini said in a statement.

ByMel Frykberg, African News Agency