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Libya's UN-backed government suspends cooperation with France, accuses it of backing rebel forces

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By Alice Tidey  with Reuters
Members of the Libyan internationally recognised government forces
Members of the Libyan internationally recognised government forces   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) accused France of backing rebel commander Khalifa Haftar on Thursday and said it would suspend all security cooperation with Paris.

A statement from the Tripoli-based GNA's interior ministry said it had suspended "all relations between the ministry and the French side" because of "the position of the French government in support of the criminal Haftar."

France supports UN-backed GNA

A French presidential source said in response to the accusation that France supported the internationally recognised government in Tripoli and that Emmanuel Macron's legitimate interlocutor was Fayez al-Sarraj, the GNA's prime minister, with whom he spoke on Monday and reaffirmed that.

France has helped train Serraj's presidential guard and in October 2013 signed a deal between a consultancy of the French interior ministry and the Libyan interior ministry to train 1,000 police.

Most recently in February, France provided the Tripoli government with six patrol boats for its coastline.

Read more: France under pressure to condemn Haftar as EU seeks unity on Libya crisis

However, Paris has given Haftar support in the past viewing him as the best bet to end the chaos that has reigned since a NATO-backed rebellion set out to end Gaddafi's murderous four-decade rule.

Euronews has reached out to the French Foreign Affairs Ministry.

'For the dignity of Libya'

General Haftar leads the rebel Libyan National Army (LNA) forces, aligned with the House of Representatives, an elected government based in the east of the country. The LNA has fought the GNA for control of the north-African country since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

On April 4, Haftar launched a military operation to take Tripoli. LNA spokesman General Ahmed Mismari told Euronews the offensive aimed "to defend civilians, to defend the Libyan people, to defend our country resources, for the dignity of Libya."

Read more: Military assault on Tripoli is "in public's interest', says Libyan rebel group

Some 205 people have died and more than 900 were wounded so far in the fighting, according to the World Health Organisation.

The GNA also issued arrest warrants on Thursday against Haftar and six other LNA commanders.

The EU has officially called for negotiations between the two parties and Germany called on Wednesday for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.