Tunisia army on high alert along Libyan border, Libyan ceasefire goes into effect

File photo of a Tunisian soldier keeps watch atop a roof near the border with Libya, in the town of Ben Gardane, Tunisia. EPA/STRINGER

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Tunisia put its army and security forces on high alert along its 400km border with Libya against the risk of spillover from the conflict there.

Tunisian leaders said they worry that the strife in Libya could set off an exodus of refugees towards its border.

“All indications point towards worsening of the situation in Libya because of the foreign intervention,” Tunisian President Kais Saied said on January 7. “There are diplomatic efforts deployed within the framework of the United Nations and by other countries in the Arab region, including Tunisia, and beyond but these efforts are not reaching to the level of providing a peaceful solution to the conflict.”

Saied warned against terrorists hiding among refugees and sneaking into Tunisia.

“We have to prepare ourselves well for all aspects of the effect of the conflict in Libya not only those related to security and the possibility of a number of terrorists infiltrating among the ranks of refugees but for repatriation of a number of foreigners who will likely enter the territory,” he said.

Saied called on the international community to help Tunisia cope with the expected influx of refugees.

“It is necessary to coordinate with the international community, namely the European Union, in order to provide the financial resources that enable Tunisia to cope with the effects of the situation in Libya,” he said.

The troops loyal to Libya warlord Khalifa Haftar pledged to halt the attack on Tripoli but warned of a “harsh response” if the defenders violated the truce as the EU, Russia and Turkey were working to curb the fighting.

Under international pressure, the forces led by Libyan general Khalifa Haftar declared a “conditional” ceasefire in their offensive to take Tripoli from their rivals, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

The truce went into effect early on Sunday, according to a spokesman for the Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA).

The LNA said they would maintain the truce in western parts of the country “provided that the other party abides by the ceasefire.”

LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari also warned that “any breach will be met with a harsh response.”

Read more via The Arab Weekly

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