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Libyan troops in show of force in the capital - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Libyan soldiers with an anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on a vehicle deploy in a Tripoli's neighborhood after militias were ordered to leave the capital following weekend clashes on November 18, 2013 (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA)

Libyan soldiers with an anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on a vehicle deploy in a Tripoli’s neighborhood after militias were ordered to leave the capital following weekend clashes on November 18, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Libyan army was deployed in the capital Tripoli on Monday in order to avert armed clashes, following unrest over the weekend.

Eyewitnesses in Tripoli informed Asharq Al-Awsat that dozens of military vehicles carrying Libyan army soldiers were deployed in the capital on Monday, and that they were warmly welcomed by the residents. The Libyan Ministry of Defense had earlier issued a statement informing the residents of Tripoli that army units were about to enter the capital and called on them to cooperate.

National Police Directorate chief, Col. Mohamed Suwaisi, said in a news conference on Monday that police would also deploy in all areas of the capital and would cooperate with the army to restore security.

Hashim Bashr, the chairman of the Higher Security Committee in Tripoli, told Asharq Al-Awsat that these developments took place following the withdrawal of armed militias from the Gharghour suburb of Tripoli, where clashes at a protest against the presence of militias in the city resulted in 47 deaths and more than 500 injuries last Friday.

Meanwhile, the ministerial committee in charge of implementing the decision of the General National Congress (GNC) regarding the removal of armed militias from the capital said it has completed work on what it described as a comprehensive plan to resolve the issue.

The committee said in a statement that it met on Monday with Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and the director of operations of the Libyan armed forces, and that it had set an action plan for the next few days and opened contacts with armed factions to set a timeframe for the removal of all armed militias from Benghazi and Tripoli.

In its statement, the committee said that “at the end of the plan, Tripoli and Benghazi will only have Libyan police units and the Libyan regular army, and all members are enthusiastic about the plan.”

It also added that “the time has come for the Libyan state to deal with this issue. The objectives of the February 17 Revolution will not be achieved until security has been restored in the capital and all major cities in Libya.”

Meanwhile, Libya’s defense ministry claims that it has the security situation in Tripoli under control, and called on residents to exercise restraint and not listen to rumors.

The warning follows a rumor that said the head of the local council in Tripoli had been assassinated, which was denied by the council.

The militia blamed for last week’s violence, which allegedly included the use of heavy weapons against unarmed civilian protesters, are based in the city of Misrata. In response to their expulsion from the capital, the Misratan governing council announced the suspension of the membership of the city’s representatives at the GNC, as well as members of the government. It also announced the withdrawal of all “revolutionaries” from Tripoli within 72 hours.

The Misrata Council said in a statement published by the local news agency that it held the GNC responsible for the safety of all people from Misrata who live in Tripoli, and demanded they be compensated for damage to property caused by the violence and looting.

The council said that it was necessary to withdraw its militia from the capital to prevent them becoming involved in bloodshed planned by individuals spreading “sedition.”

Meanwhile, Col. Abdallah Al-Saaiti, the commander of the Benghazi joint security unit, survived an assassination attempt when a car bomb detonated near is car. A statement by the Libyan army said the explosion killed one of his guards.

Col Abdallah Al-Zaidi, a spokesperson for the Benghazi joint security room, said “the amount of explosives used was close to 45 kilograms [100 pounds] and the car was detonated remotely as the convoy of the commander of the Benghazi joint security room passed.”