Libya's Haftar 'ready' for deal with Islamist militias

BENGHAZI – Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar has expressed readiness to sign a "conditional deal" with Islamist militias on which he unilaterally waged a campaign several months ago.

Haftar said during a Wednesday interview with BBC news channel that rebuilding the Libyan army was his pre-condition for a deal with militias.

"Our demand is to be able to defend ourselves," he said of the Libyan army. "Such armed groups who come from Asia and other regions must be resisted."

He also called on his rivals to "come to their senses and realize that the safety of the Libyan people is a must."

Haftar said that he was keen on not dragging the confrontation from the eastern region, mainly Benghazi, to capital Tripoli.

"We are trying as much as we can to avoid causing damage to Tripoli and surrounding areas," he said.

Libya has remained in a state of turmoil since the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011. Rival militias have frequently clashed in Libya's main cities, including capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.

Political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government in the country, each of which has its own institutions.

Vying for legislative authority are the internationally-backed House of Representatives, which convenes in Tobruk, and the Islamist-led General National Congress, which – even though its mandate has ended – continues to convene in Tripoli.

The two assemblies support two different governments headquartered in the two respective cities as well as two military entities.

While the House has the support of much of the Libyan army and troops loyal to Haftar, the Congress is backed by Islamist militias which helped topple Gaddafi in 2011.

Haftar, an army commander who served under Gaddafi, launched a campaign against Islamist militias in Benghazi in the spring of last year.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency