BENGHAZI/TRIPOLI: The commander of Libyan army special forces yesterday said he had allied with renegade general Khalifa Haftar in his campaign against militant Islamists, highlighting the failure of central government in Tripoli to assert its authority.
The announcement gives a major boost to a campaign by Haftar, who has been denounced by the Tripoli government as attempting to stage a coup in the oil producer.
It remains unclear how many troops support Haftar, whose forces launched an attack on Islamist militants in Benghazi on Friday in which more than 70 people died. Militiamen apparently allied to Haftar also stormed parliament in Tripoli on Sunday.
The violence has compounded government’s apparent weakness in combating militias which helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but now defy state
“We are with Haftar,” Special Forces Commander Wanis Bukhamada said in the eastern city of Benghazi. On live television he had earlier announced his forces would join “Operation Dignity”, as Haftar calls his campaign.