Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Libyan National Army threatens to bomb Canadian aid ship

- According to the Libya Observer, the spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Hafar, Ahmed al-Mismari, said that his forces would bomb a Canadian ship bound for Ganfouda, Benghazi that is carrying humanitarian aid.

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According to the Observer the ship will likely arrive in mid-December. The ship is said to be carrying humanitarian aid and medicines for civilians trapped in Ganfouda. However al-Mismari claimed: “The Canadian ship will come to Ganfouda with evil intentions in the disguise of humanitarian assistance,” His statement was broadcast on Al-Rasmiya TV associated with the Al-Thinni government of the Hourse of Representatives (HoR). Haftar is commander in chief of the HoR armed forces, the Libyan National Army.
Parts of the Ganfouda area are still held by members of the Benghazi Shura Council opponents of Haftar. Haftar has driven Islamic State fighters along with those of the Shura Council out of most of the city previously held by them. Al-Mismari said that the security of the country was much more important than human rights "that are sponsored by the traitors". Al-Mismari said: “All ports and terminals in Benghazi and Derna are closed, except for the Brega and Tobruk commercial ports. This is because we have issued an order treating all the ports in military operations’ areas as shutdown ports,” He compared the situation to that of the Mavi Marmara that tried to enter Gaza and was boarded by Israelis and stopped with several people being killed.
The Canadian ship was not identified, nor was the name of the organization or organizations that are sending the aid. I could not find out anything further about the ship but now that it has been threatened by Haftar, perhaps more information will be made more widely available.
Haftar has been criticized for some time for the way he has operated in his fight against Islamists in Benghazi and also in Derna. An article in the Middle East Eye compares actions in Benghazi to those in Srebrenica.. The article notes:
Hundreds of civilians, including 130 Libyan families and foreign nationals who have been besieged for months and trapped by the fighting, are at risk of starving to death. They are running out of food, and the food they have left is inedible. Water is contaminated, infants are without milk and the sick are running out of medication.Amnesty International also spoke out on the situation demanding that passages out of the area be provided by Haftar. An article in the Libya Herald also quotes the United Nations Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on civiilains casualties caused by the Haftar offensive:UNSMIL said that two women and five children died in airstrikes on Benghazi’s Ganfouda district where civilians were trapped because of fighting between the Libyan National Army and the Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shura Council. It noted “While no one claimed responsibility for the air strikes, information received indicated that the LNA or their allies carried out the airstrikes that caused civilian casualties in Ganfouda and Derna.”
The Canadian government should surely have something to say about the Libyan threats against a Canadian ship.

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