By Sami Zaptia.
London, 24 April 2020:
Ahmed Mesmari, the Official Spokesperson for the Khalifa Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA) has refuted a claim by Fathi Bashagha, Interior Minister of the Internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli, that pro LNA forces (Wagner) had used chemical weapons in a battle in the Salah Al-Deen suburb of Tripoli.
Bashagha had raised the issue by responding to a question by an Arab foreign media outlet aligned to his government. He did not deny the allegation. He said ‘‘the initial report stated that our forces’s bodies were hit by nerve gas, but we are still waiting for more details and reports’’.
In his response, Mesmari said that the ‘‘Turkish invaders, through their treasonous agents in the so called Sarraj government, have been spreading rumours that the Libyan National Army has been using chemical weapons in the Salahuddin axis.
After analyzing the aim of these vile rumours, it has become clear that the terrorist and criminal groups are trying to find an excuse to convince public opinion of a direct intrusion by the Turkish Airforce using Turkish Fighter Jets and to use chemical weapons to target Libyan National Army locations.
Thus, we call on all parties involved in the Libyan crisis and the UN Mission in Libya to keep a close eye on the matter; we are also willing to conduct an international investigation on this matter.
Turkey has previously used similar rumours and lies to smear the Syrian Arab Army to mislead the international community and cover-up the vile Turkish intrusion in Arab affairs’’, concluded Mesmari.
Commenting on the matter in response to a media question during her virtual press conference yesterday, Stephanie Williams, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said ‘‘Yes, indeed, I did have an exchange with the Interior Minister last night, and this (report of the possible use of chemical weapons) is a very concerning report.
Now, I would make two comments here. Libya is a signatory to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), they can certainly go that route in terms of requesting assistance. We have also referred this to the panel of experts who will be looking into it. So again, this is the very, very concerning report.’’