FILE PHOTO: Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, arrives to attend an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 29, 2018.
FILE PHOTO: Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, arrives to attend an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 29, 2018.

PARIS - Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the U.N.-recognized government in Tripoli, said in an interview published Sunday he will continue fighting until militias in the city laid down their arms.

Haftar had justified the offensive last month by saying he was fighting against "private militias and extremist groups" who he said were gaining influence in the capital under Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

"Of course a political solution is the objective," Haftar told the Journal de Dimanche newspaper in France. "But to return to politics, we need to finish with the militias."

"The problem in Tripoli is a security one."

Fighters loyal to Libya's U.N.-backed government (GNA) fire weapons during a clash with forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar at the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya, May 21, 2019.
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Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar told French President Emmanuel Macron that conditions for a cease-fire were not in place, although he would be ready to talk if those conditions were met, a French presidency official said.Macron and French officials have for several weeks called for an unconditional cease-fire in the battle for Tripoli after Haftar last month launched an offensive on the Libyan capital."The distrust we see between the Libyan actors is stronger than ever today," said a French…

He offered an amnesty to fighters in Tripoli who laid down their arms, saying they would be allowed to "return home safe and sound."

He also took aim at U.N. mediator Ghassan Salame, who has warned the country is "committing suicide" due to a conflict that 6-10 foreign states are involved in.

"Salame is making irresponsible statements," Haftar said. "He wasn't like that before, he has changed. From an impartial and honest mediator, he has become a biased one."

Salame has warned that Haftar's offensive is "just the start of a long and bloody war."

More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 2,400 have also been wounded, while 100,000 people are feared trapped by the clashes raging on the outskirts of Tripoli.