An eastern tribe loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar has rejected what they called “Italy’s interference in Libya”, saying their sons are ready for “Jihad against the fascists.”

In a statement aired on Khalifa Haftar-owned TV channel “Libya Al-Hadat”, a group of tribesmen from Jawazi tribe said they are monitoring “Italy’s endeavors to set up a colonial base in Libya” and they are ready to raise “the flag of Jihad” against what they called “the fascist colonial state of Italy.”

“We are ready for Jihad alongside other honorable tribes against Allah’s enemies.” They claimed.

“We warn the Italian government that sons of Omar Mukhtar still love Jihad”, they said, vowing full support to Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled army.

Local observers say Haftar is using tribes and radical Salafist groups known as “Madkhalis” as cards for political gains. They said despite presence of an UAE base in eastern Libya and the military aid he receives from the UAE, Egypt and France, the warlord accuses his opponents with fake charges such as loyalty to Qatar, Turkey and Italy to stir up public opinion.

A military source said Haftar is seeking with the help of his foreign allies (UAE, Egypt and France) to control the Libyan army, oil resources and the Central Bank of Libya, but he has failed so far due to foreign refusal.  

Meanwhile, the Presidential Council denied presence of any Italian bases in Libya’s south as claimed by Dignity Operation and its affiliated media outlets.

Deputy Chairman of Presidential Council Ahmed Maiteeq refuted news of presence of foreign troops in southern Libya, saying in a joint presser with Italian Interior Minister in Rome on Thursday that setting up any foreign bases in southern Libya is totally rejected.

He clarified that there is a joint project between Libya and the EU through Italy signed in 2009 with a total cost 380 million euros to secure Libya’s southern borders and stem flow of migrants to EU shores. He said a technical team from Italy was due to visit Ghat city in southwestern Libya to prepare for this joint project, adding this this project shall start immediately.

The claims were also denied by Italian ambassador to Libya, Giuseppe Perrone.