Libya’s Haftar closes the border with Algeria


General Khalifa Haftar speaks during a press conference at a sports club in Abyar, a small town east of Benghazi, May 21, 2014. REUTERS / Esam Omran Al-Fetori

TRIPOLIS, June 20 (Reuters) – Troops loyal to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar in the east have closed the border with Algeria, they said on Sunday after major operations by his armed forces in the south, despite efforts to continue his role Had underlined the unification of the country.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) last week sent troops to the southern city of Sebha, which was already allied with eastern forces, and then to a southern border crossing with Algeria on Saturday.

“The armed forces have closed the Libyan-Algerian border and declared it a military zone where movement is prohibited,” said the moral guidance department, an LNA media unit.

The nearly 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) long border between Algeria and Libya cuts through a largely uninhabited desert and has few crossings.

Haftar was sidelined after the collapse of his 14-month offensive against Tripoli last year while a new unity government backed by a United Nations-backed peace process has challenged his political position.

Yet despite the progress made towards a political solution for Libya after a decade of violence and chaos, most of the country is still controlled by armed groups, corruption is rampant and the external powers involved in the conflict have not withdrawn.

Progress is expected on Sunday in implementing the September military ceasefire, with the planned reopening of the main coastal road across the front lines, and foreign powers will meet in Berlin this week for talks on Libya.

Reporting by Reuters Libya Newsroom, writing by Angus McDowall Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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