For regional experts, warlord Khalifa Haftar is sending his forces to fight against Daesh only to hide his 'war crimes' and stay relevant in Libya.

Khalifa Haftar, a self-styled military commander in the Libyan conflict, recently announced that he has directed his forces, a mix of foreign mercenaries and local militias, to fight against Daesh. 

The move comes three weeks after Haftar hosted a so-called military parade to show his strength to his rivals, which includes the UN-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

For regional experts, Haftar is acting like a con artist, deploying various tricks to remain relevant in the Libyan conflict, and his latest move against Daesh is seen as yet another act of deceit to distract the world from his alleged crimes. 

In May last year, when his forces were closing in on Tripoli, pounding the city with artillery bombardment and attacking areas populated by civilians, the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned Haftar against "potential war crimes".

"It is now over a year since the offensive on Tripoli by the eastern-based militia known as the Libyan National Army headed by General Khalifa Haftar started," ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the Security Council. "Of particular concern to my Office are the high numbers of civilian casualties, largely reported to be resulting from airstrikes and shelling operations."

He sent his forces to the Tamanhat Air Base in the south on Friday, as per media sources, claiming that they will launch an offensive against 'terrorists', which many say will be aimed against Daesh. 

Local accounts claimed that Haftar’s militia convoy included the Kaniyat militia group which was previously blacklisted by the US for war crimes and mass graves found in Tarhouna. 

It came after a suicide attack on June 6 on a security point affiliated with the Sabha Police Department in southern Libya with a bomb-laden vehicle. Two police lieutenants were killed and four wounded. Daesh terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Tuesday, the Sabha Military Region announced that they have investigated suspicious movements in the region following continuous military mobilisation in the Tamanhat Base. 

Reaffirming that the Defence Ministry is the only liable authority in the region, the Sabha Military Region forces warned Haftar not to violate the ceasefire. 

Even though Haftar tries to convince the international community of his resistance against Daesh, several reports have revealed that his militias and self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) consist of the Shabiha militias from Syria’s Deir Ezzor province that are linked to the Assad regime, former members of Daesh and war criminals.

Haftar has destroyed several democratic attempts for peace in the war-torn North African country.

The people of Southern Sabha, Sirte and strategically important Al-Jufra have been suffering from the violation of a ceasefire by the Haftar militias which consist of Russian Wagner mercenaries, the Janjaweed militias, and forces belonging to the warlord. 

As Libya under the mediation of the United Nations prepares for the 24 December elections after a decade-long war, warlord Khalifa Haftar is trying to preserve his tyranny by ignoring international and internal attempts to bring peace to the country.  

According to a statement from Haftar’s militias, troops were dispatched to the south for support despite the denial of official forces. 

The statement of Haftar’s militias claims the operation was aimed at capturing terrorists and deporting African mercenaries who threaten security and stability and engage in looting, theft and all kinds of smuggling.

Although Haftar has no legitimacy in the country, experts believe that he is making desperate attempts to prolong his influence under the cover of fighting against Daesh to restore his image in the eyes of his allies and stake a position in Libya’s future. 

The UN has repeatedly urged that foreign fighters and mercenaries must leave Libya "without any further delay," but Haftar has refused to pay any heed. He continues to fund and administer foreign mercenaries that are deployed in eastern Libya, ignoring the international community's calls. 

The media centre of the Volcano of Rage Operation, which is under the command of UN-backed government officials, has posted videos showing frequent Russian warplanes flying in Sirte and Al-Jufra’s airspaces.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies