“The Supreme Commander of the Libyan Army announces a total ban on the movement of military units, whatever the nature of their work, without his prior approval,” the media office of Operation Burkan al-Ghadab (Volcano de la rage), the government-led counteroffensive launched last April, a statement on Twitter said on Saturday.
It is also forbidden to circulate “military convoys for any purpose whatsoever, or to transfer personnel, weapons or ammunition,” the statement said.
If necessary, the “repositioning or relocation” of military convoys should take place “only in accordance … and with the approval of the Supreme Commander,” he added.
Earlier on Saturday, a large military force loyal to Haftar said it had taken control of Essen’s southern border post with Algeria, declaring the region a military zone in which movement was strictly prohibited.
Images uploaded showed dozens of armored vehicles positioned in and around the terminal, which had been closed for several years due to the conflict in Libya.
The move came after Haftar, in a statement released Thursday, announced an operation in the region “to track down … terrorists and expel African mercenary gangs that threaten security and stability.”
This is the first such military operation by Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army since the signing of a ceasefire agreement late last year and the takeover by the government of unity.
“Libya has enjoyed relative peace since the signing of the ceasefire agreement in October, so this is a very important move,” said Al Jazeera’s Malik Traina, from Tripoli.
” It’s the first time [since then] that such a great military mobilization has taken place, ”he added.
Local sources in the south told Al Jazeera that the convoy that arrived on Saturday was made up of Tuareg fighters and forces loyal to former strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled Gaddafi in 2011 and ultimately divided the oil-rich country between a UN-recognized government in the capital and rival authorities based in the capital. east of the country, each supported by armed groups and foreign governments. .
In April 2019, Haftar and his eastern-based forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive in an attempt to capture Tripoli.
His 14-month campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up support for the Tripoli government with advanced military equipment, troops and thousands of mercenaries.
The October ceasefire led to the formation of the joint interim government, which replaced the two rival administrations. He is charged with bringing the divided country together and leading it through the presidential and legislative elections on December 24.
There were fears that Haftar’s latest move “will hamper the elections and the peace process,” Traina said.
An international conference on Libya is due to take place in Germany on June 23. The event, co-organized by the United Nations, aims to “bring together the foreign actors involved… in Berlin to discuss support for Libya’s new interim unity government”.