Tight security in Libyan capital as tension rises

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Security forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government stood guard on the streets of Tripoli on Tuesday amid rising tensions with rebel forces in the country’s east.

Turkey and Russia failed to convince Khalifa Haftar, commander of the forces in the east, to sign a binding truce on Monday to halt his nine-month campaign to try to topple the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord.

Fayez al-Serraj, who heads the Tripoli-based government, did sign the truce agreement through Turkish and Russian mediators in Moscow on Monday but Haftar left without signing.

The initiative was the latest attempt to stabilise the North African country which has been beset by turmoil since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Russian defense ministry was quoted by Interfax news agency on Tuesday as saying Haftar had been positive about the ceasefire deal and was taking two days to discuss it with tribes that support his forces.

But Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said Haftar had “run away.” Turkey’s parliament voted this month to allow a troop deployment to help the Tripoli government to fend off Haftar, who is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Russian mercenaries.

In another attempt to resolve the crisis, Germany is hosting a summit with the United Nations on Sunday and is inviting the rival camps, their main foreign backers and representatives from the UN and the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, Turkey and Italy.

Serraj and Haftar have both been invited to the conference.