By Fahri Aksut
For a sustainable and permanent ceasefire in Libya, it will be critical to demilitarize the northern city of Sirte and central region Jufra, a senior Turkish diplomat said Tuesday following talks with Russia on the conflict in the North African country.
In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said a Turkish delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal and met traveled to Moscow for two days of talks on Libya and Syria.
Underlining that the demilitarization process for these regions’ had to be determined, Onal said Turkey had declared its support during the meetings for the efforts of the UN-led 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) among the Libyan sides.
He said during the meetings, the Turkish side stressed the importance of starting inclusive intra-Libyan political dialogue under the auspices of the UN, as well as of implementing the Berlin Conference resolutions.
Onal also said Russia and Turkey decided to maintain contact towards political resolution in Libya.
On Aug. 21, Libya announced a ceasefire and ordered the military to stop all combat operations, specifying that the areas of Sirte and al-Jufra must be demilitarized, and calling for elections next March.
On Aug. 27, the Libyan army said militias loyal to warlord Haftar violated the truce.
Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political deal.
Libya’s internationally recognized government has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.
With Turkish support, Libya’s government has turned the tide against the forces of Haftar, while stressing that there was no military solution for Libya.
On Syria, Onal said the situation in the northwestern region of Idlib and issues regarding the implementation of joint patrols had also been discussed.
He said the Turkish and Russian delegations agreed to continue joint efforts in accordance with a March ceasefire in the region, which had been declared a de-escalation zone.
Onal added that the sides had discussed the results of the recent third round of meetings by the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva, stressing the importance of maintaining momentum in the political process.
Also, they emphasized the need for the Astana Process to be carried forward, he added.
This March, Ankara and Moscow agreed on a protocol urging parties to “cease all military actions along the line of contact in the Idlib de-escalation area.”
The protocol said joint Turkish-Russian patrols would begin on March 15 along the M4 highway from the settlement of Trumba — 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) west of Saraqib — to the settlement of Ain al-Havr.
Idlib has long been under siege by the Bashar al-Assad regime forces and its allies, and previous ceasefires for the region were plagued by violations.
Turkey has worked to protect the local civilian population as well as rid the wider region of terrorist elements.
– PKK/YPG terrorists
On a recent visit by PKK/YPG terrorists to Moscow, Onal said Turkish delegation voiced the country’s objections to the Russian authorities.
“Such steps will not serve to protect Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity,” he said, referring to the invitation of the terrorists under the guise of the so-called “Syrian Democratic Council.”
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU — has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
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