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US calls for withdrawal of foreign forces from Libya

NEW YORK – The United States has called for the immediate withdrawal of foreign forces from Libya after a deadline for them to leave was ignored.

Under an UN-backed ceasefire signed in October last year, foreign troops and mercenaries were to pull out of Libya within three months.

That deadline passed on Saturday with no movement announced or observed on the ground.

“We call on all external parties, to include Russia, Turkey and the UAE, to respect Libyan sovereignty and immediately cease all military intervention in Libya,” the acting US ambassador Richard Mills said on Thursday during a UN Security Council meeting on Libya, which has seen a decade of fighting since the overthrow of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

“Per the October ceasefire agreement, we call on Turkey and Russia to immediately initiate the withdrawal of their forces from the country and the removal of the foreign mercenaries and military proxies that they have recruited, financed, deployed and supported in Libya,” said Mills.

The statement comes a year after a Berlin summit brought together backers of the main warring factions in Libya, with world leaders pledging to end foreign interference and work towards a permanent ceasefire.

The UN estimates there are about 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries helping the opposing sides in Libya: The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA), based in the country’s east.

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