Libya's eastern forces deny reports of summary executions
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - The Libyan National Army, the main military force in eastern Libya, on Thursday denied accusations that its troops were involved in torture and killing of prisoners after the United Nations urged the LNA to investigate.
The U.N. Human Rights Commission earlier this week called on the LNA, one of the many competing armed factions fighting in Libya since its 2011 civil war, to examine reports of summary executions of prisoners.
"We affirm that there is no truth to what is described in the statement regarding the torture or killing prisoners," LNA spokesman Ahmad Messmari said.
The LNA has expanded its presence in central and southern Libya as it vies for control with forces linked to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli and other opponents.
LNA commander Khalifa Haftar has gained ground with Egyptian and United Arab Emirates support, and Western states say Haftar must be part of any solution to Libya's conflict.
U.N. officials voiced concern this week that, after recent fighting in Benghazi, people taken prisoner by the LNA, which effectively controls eastern Libya, might be at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution.
Several videos circulated on social media this year claimed to show a commander of LNA's Special Forces executing a number of masked and handcuffed prisoners.
"For the alleged video (of the commander), we have already launched investigation into the video and we will publish the results when they are issued," Messmari said.
Separately, al-Hayat newspaper reported that Haftar and Fayez Seraj, head of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli in the far west of the country, would meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on July 25 as part of diplomatic efforts to end Libya's bloodshed.
(Reporting by Ayman Al-Wafalli; writing by Ahmed Elumami; editing by Patrick Markey and Mark Heinrich)