The statement came after forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar said they had seized control of a border crossing with Algeria.
Libya’s presidential council banned any military movement across the country without its approval after forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar said they seized control of a border crossing with Algeria and declared it a military zone.
“The Supreme Commander of the Libyan Army announces a total ban on the movement of military units, regardless of the nature of their work, without their prior approval,” Operation Burkan al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) media office, the government-led counteroffensive launched last April, it said in a statement on Twitter on Saturday.
The movement of “military convoys for any purpose, or to transfer personnel, weapons or ammunition,” is also prohibited, the statement read.
If necessary, the “repositioning or movement” of the military convoys should only be carried out “in accordance … and with the approval of the Supreme Commander,” he added.
Earlier on Saturday, a large military force loyal to Haftar said it took control of Essen’s southern border crossing with Algeria, declaring the area a military zone in which movement was strictly prohibited.
Images posted online showed dozens of armored vehicles stationed in and around the crossing, which has been closed for several years due to the conflict in Libya.
The move came after Haftar, in a statement Thursday, announced an operation in the area “to track down … terrorists and drive out gangs of African mercenaries who threaten security and stability.”
This is the first military operation of its kind by Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army since the signing of a ceasefire agreement late last year and the seizure of power by the unity government.
“Libya has experienced relative peace since the ceasefire agreement was signed in October, so this is a very significant move,” said Al Jazeera’s Malik Traina, reporting from Tripoli.
“Its the first time [since then] that such a large military mobilization has occurred ”, he added.
Local sources in the south told Al Jazeera that the convoy that arrived on Saturday consisted of Tuareg fighters and forces loyal to former strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya has been plagued by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled Gaddafi in 2011 and ultimately divided the oil-rich country between a UN-recognized government in the capital and rival authorities based in the east of the country. each backed by armed groups and foreign governments. .
In April 2019, Haftar and his eastern-based forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try to capture Tripoli.
His 14-month campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its support for the Tripoli government with advanced military equipment, troops and thousands of mercenaries.
The October ceasefire led to the formation of the joint interim government, which replaced the two rival administrations. He is tasked with uniting the divided country and leading it through presidential and parliamentary elections on December 24.
There were concerns that Haftar’s latest move could “impede the elections and the peace process,” Traina said.
An international conference on Libya is scheduled to take place in Germany on June 23. The event, jointly organized by the United Nations, aims to “bring together the foreign actors involved … in Berlin to discuss support for the new interim unity government of Libya.”