The statement came after forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar said they had taken control of a border crossing with Algeria.
Libya’s presidential council has banned any military movement across the country without its approval after forces loyal to the resignation of military commander Khalifa Haftar said they had taken control of a border crossing with the Algeria and has declared it a military zone.
“The Supreme Commander of the Libyan Army announces a complete ban on the movement of military units, regardless of the nature of their work, without their prior approval,” the media office of Operation Burkan al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage), the government-led counteroffensive launched last April, said Saturday in a statement on Twitter.
It also prohibits the movement of “military convoys for any purpose, or to transfer personnel, weapons or ammunition,” the statement said.
If necessary, the “repositioning or movement” of military convoys should be done only “in accordance … and with the approval of the Supreme Commander,” he added.
On Saturday, a large military force loyal to Haftar said it had taken control of Essen’s southern border with Algeria, declaring the area a military zone in which movement was strictly prohibited.
Images posted online show dozens of armored vehicles positioned 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 expel African mercenary gangs that threaten security and stability.”
This is the first military operation of its kind by Haftar’s Libyan national army since the signing of a ceasefire agreement at the end of last year and the takeover of the unity government.
“Libya has seen relative peace since the ceasefire agreement was signed in October, so this is a very significant move,” Malik Traina of Al Jazeera said, reporting from Tripoli.
“It’s the first time [since then] that such a military mobilization should take place, ”he added.
Local sources in the south told Al Jazeera that the convoy that arrived on Saturday was made up of Tuareg fighters and forces loyal to former powerful Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya has been plagued by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising killed Gaddafi in 2011 and finally split the oil-rich country between a UN-recognized government in the capital and rival authorities based on the east of the country, each supported by armed groups and foreign governments.
In April 2019, Haftar and his eastern forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try to capture Tripoli.
His 14-month campaign fell after Turkey bolstered its support for the Tripoli government with advanced military hardware, 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 reuniting the divided country and leading it through the December 24 presidential and parliamentary elections.
There were concerns that Haftar’s latest move could “impede elections and the peace process,” Traina said.
An international conference on Libya is scheduled to take place in Germany on June 23. The event, co-hosted by the UN, is intended to “bring together the foreign actors involved … together in Berlin to discuss supporting Libya’s new interim unity government.”