‘Joe Biden is Joe Biden’: Democratic establishment clashes with progressives over lockstep defense on Tara Reade allegations

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “boys will be boys”-type defense of 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden has half the internet raging at the party’s “hypocrisy,” while the other half demand the heads of the candidate’s critics.

Pelosi delivered a tart rebuke on Thursday to a reporter’s query about how the party was (mis)handling former Senate staffer Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against Biden.

Insisting she had “complete respect for the #MeToo movement” and “a lot of excitement around the idea that women will be heard and will be listened to,” Pelosi countered with a mealy-mouthed appeal to “due process,” insisting “nobody ever came forward to say something” except Reade herself.

Reade did claim she not only filed a report with the Senate but complained to Biden’s secretary and two aides, and even CNN had seen a contemporaneous police report.

The fact that Joe Biden is Joe Biden…” Pelosi gushed, appearing to imply that the former vice president’s reputation should speak for itself before declaring that “the happiest day for me this week” was when she decided to endorse him.

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© Reuters / Scott Audette
Orwellian ‘memory hole’ in action? Stealth removal of CNN clip supporting Biden sex assault claim proves MSM’s double standards

As the voice of the same Democratic Party that had made its unofficial slogan ‘Believe Women’ less than two years ago, when one woman after another came forward with appalling if unsubstantiated assault claims against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Pelosi’s apparent brush-off of the disturbing allegations against Biden upset many, who proceeded to vent on social media.

Others made a joke out of the rampant hypocrisy, or dug up old jokes even Democrats had made, back before Biden was running for president.

Plenty more still had the memory of Kavanaugh’s public crucifixion fresh in their minds.

Still, the media establishment’s faith in the infallibility of Saint Biden was beginning to fray at the edges, as evidenced by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes giving a few minutes of airtime to Reade’s claims on Wednesday night.

While he prefaced his coverage with a lengthy disclaimer and modulated his voice to heap scorn upon the accuser, it wasn’t enough for the Democratic faithful, who demanded the cable network #FireChrisHayes (and vowed to boycott it until then).

Some even claimed it was proof Hayes was working for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Progressives and conservatives were united in their scorn for the #MeToo crusaders turned partisan apologists.

It certainly seemed that MSNBC was spooked by the Biden Bros backlash, however, because the Hayes clip never made it to the network’s YouTube channel.

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Boeing snubbed as NASA picks 3 lunar lander designs to compete for 2024 manned Moon mission

Handing out its first Moon-bound contracts in half a century, NASA has contracted three companies to build lunar landers as it settles down to beat the president’s 2024 deadline for Project Artemis. But Boeing is not one of them.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and defense contractor SAIC’s subsidiary Dynetics received the coveted three contracts to compete to build the lunar lander NASA hopes will deliver American astronauts to the Moon within four years, the agency announced on Thursday.

The mission, dubbed Project Artemis, seeks to study the region near the Moon’s south pole in the hope of setting up a permanent base there. NASA is especially eyeing the ice found in its craters in the hope it can be used to sustain life or as fuel.

Blue Origin’s ‘Integrated Lander Vehicle,’ a three-stage lander built in conjunction with defense contractors Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Draper; Dynetics’ ‘Human Landing System,’ which involved over 25 subcontractors; and SpaceX’s ‘Starship’ craft will be funded through February 2021 under the current contracts, at which point NASA might put one aside to focus on the other two. A NASA team will be embedded with the companies while they build the landers.


©  NASA.gov / SpaceX

The awarding of lunar-lander contracts is the farthest any of the US attempts at returning to the Moon since the last Apollo Project launch in 1972 have gotten, but NASA and the White House still must convince Congress to fund the program, expected to cost $35 billion over the next four years.


©  NASA.gov / Dynetics

That’s easier said than done. Project Artemis has run into a number of hurdles, mostly involving the increasingly troubled defense contractor Boeing’s Space Launch System (SLS) – the rocket that is supposed to deliver the astronauts to orbit. Continuing delays – the SLS’ launch has been pushed back to November 2021, and a recent Government Accountability Report warned that it “may develop leaks when it is filled with fuel” – have forced NASA to scrap an intermediate step, a “Gateway” space station that would orbit the Moon and serve as an outpost for lunar landers to dock and refuel, in the interest of meeting the 2024 deadline. The Gateway remains a future goal, but will not be involved in the initial landing effort.


©  NASA.gov / Blue Origin

Tellingly, the bid Boeing submitted for the lander contract was rejected despite promising the “fewest steps to the moon.” The contractor has been in hot water for the last year after a pair of its 737 MAX passenger jets crashed within six months of each other, killing everyone on board. The disasters triggered an investigation revealing a disturbingly profit-centric culture reaching into all corners of the company, which appeared to place safety – and human lives – last. Boeing’s recent spaceflight efforts haven’t fared much better, with its Starliner spacecraft designed to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station failing an unmanned test flight earlier this month – at a cost of nearly half a billion dollars.

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The Boeing CST-100 Starliner lifts off atop a ULA Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, December 20, 2019.
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While previous administrations have set space exploration goals that went nowhere (Barack Obama declared the US would go to Mars, while his predecessor George W. Bush was content with a return to the Moon), NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine insisted in an interview with the Washington Post – owned by Blue Origin’s Bezos – that the agency was really serious this time, affirming the landing was “starting to feel very, very real.”

READ MORE: Pence vows to return Americans to space ‘before summer’ as Boeing & SpaceX scramble to deliver… and NASA seeks backup Soyuz seats

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Democrats fume as armed protesters descend on Michigan Capitol to protest lockdown

Crowds of protesters, some carrying weapons, descended on the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan, as legislators considered extending Covid-19 lockdown measures. Democrats blamed President Donald Trump.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order late last month, as the coronavirus epidemic took hold in her state. When the governor – a Democrat and fierce critic of Trump – extended the order by 15 days last week, a group of residents filed a lawsuit claiming Whitmer infringed on their Constitutional rights.

After the Michigan Court of Claims rejected the suit, the state legislature sat down in Lansing on Thursday to debate extending Whitmer’s state of emergency.

Though the vote would not affect the standing stay-at-home order, it could renew the state of emergency that grants Whitmer the power to issue such restrictions. Hundreds of demonstrators showed up, clad in US flags and MAGA hats, and chanting “Let us in!” and “Vote no!”

It was the second mass rally against Whitmer’s lockdown measures. Two weeks ago, thousands drove to Lansing – mostly observing social distancing protocols – outraged at the governor’s ban on “non-essential” activities that included selling gardening tools or paying someone to mow the lawn.

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 15, 2019
Thousands DRIVE to Michigan capitol in protest over governor’s strict Covid-19 lockdown (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Thursday’s demonstration, dubbed the “American Patriot Rally,” drew some gun-rights advocates, who carried their firearms into the capitol building. Democratic politicians and pundits noticed this and immediately portrayed the protests as some kind of armed insurrection by white nationalists

“This is America in the age of Trump,” one pundit commented, in apparent solemnity.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) – member of the ‘Squad’ of progressive female freshmen – weighed in as well, claiming that while “Black people get executed by police for just existing… white people dressed like militia members carrying assault weapons are allowed to threaten State Legislators and staff.”

“Our gun laws are so broken,” Tlaib added.

The racial narrative quickly became the talking point of the day, with some going so far as to call the armed protesters terrorists.

Ultimately, the Michigan House voted not to extend Whitmer’s emergency powers and passed a resolution instead authorizing Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Republican, to take legal action against the governor for her use of these powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 40,000 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Michigan, with just under 3,800 fatalities so far – overwhelmingly in Detroit and the surrounding counties. The US as a whole has registered more than a million cases, along with nearly 64,000 deaths.

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Trump says he has ‘high confidence’ Covid-19 originated in Wuhan lab

US President Donald Trump told reporters he believed the novel coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, declining to elaborate why, after US intelligence said it believes the virus was natural in origin.

Asked on Thursday if he had a “high degree of confidence” that the coronavirus originated at the laboratory, Trump replied “Yes, I have.”

“I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that,” was his response to reporters who asked on what basis he was making that judgment.

Earlier in the day, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a statement saying that the US intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”

US spies “will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the ODNI added.

Trump scoffed at the statement when asked about it at the press event, but the ODNI is currently run by his confidant Ambassador Rick Grenell, pending the Senate confirmation of another ally, Congressman John Ratcliffe.

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© Reuters / Denis Balibouse
US intelligence says Covid-19 ‘not man-made’ but will still investigate Wuhan lab-origins theory

The US president has repeatedly blamed China for the Covid-19 pandemic, arguing that while Beijing locked down Wuhan and the surrounding province, it allowed Chinese nationals to travel abroad, spreading the virus. 

The first recorded US cases were among the nationals evacuated from Wuhan in January, but the virus rapidly spread despite a national emergency declaration and draconian lockdowns. More than a million Americans have been infected as of this week, with more than 61,000 fatalities attributed to the virus.

Trump’s finger-pointing at China follows criticism from the Democrats, who have embraced the lockdowns but blame the president for both the deaths and the economic destruction the virus has wrought on the US, with more than 30 million Americans filing for unemployment so far.

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FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a teleconference with governors at FEMA's headquarters, in Washington, DC.
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‘Israeli helicopters’ fire missiles at Syrian military sites – state media

Israeli helicopters attacked a number of military positions in southern Syria with missiles, Syrian state media reported, noting the strikes inflicted “limited material damage.”

The aircraft bombed sites in the Quneitra and Daraa provinces early on Friday morning after approaching from the occupied Golan Heights, firing some five missiles, according to the Jerusalem Post. A number of unconfirmed reports said the targets included militias allied to Damascus, such as Hezbollah, in addition to the Syrian military.

Remdesivir is getting everybody’s hopes up, but is it too early to fall prey to the hype?

Remdesivir is Big Pharma’s new bet against Covid-19, and it’s being promoted just as vigorously as the Trump-touted hydroxychloroquine was ‘debunked.’ It’s currently unproven too, but it’s already getting hopes – and shares – up.

As you read this, there are scores, if not hundreds of trials under way worldwide for new treatments for Covid-19. Remdesivir is made by Gilead Sciences, an American firm headquartered in Foster City, California. Although the drug was originally developed as a treatment for Ebola, it was found to be less effective than some alternatives, and ended up not being used. Nevertheless, it’s thought it may have some general effects against MERS, SARS and other coronaviruses.
In a press release put out on Wednesday, Gilead’s chief medical officer, Merdad Parsey, said: “Multiple concurrent studies are helping inform whether Remdesivir is a safe and effective treatment for Covid-19 and how to best utilize the drug” One of these studies is a clinical trial at the US’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which will compare patients treated with the drug to those that are not. The outcome of that trial is eagerly anticipated, but not expected until mid-May.

A fast-acting drug?

On Wednesday, Gilead announced promising initial results from a phase-three randomized trial, in which 397 patients were dosed with Remdesivir over either five or 10 days. The patients chosen for the study had reduced oxygen levels and signs of pneumonia, but were not on a ventilator.

The key finding from this study was that the drug was just as effective after five days at it was after 10, meaning that Gilead would, in theory, be able to treat twice as many patients in the same amount of time with Remdesivir. The company says that full data is awaited, and it plans to publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal in the coming weeks.

Nonetheless, the trial had a major weakness, in that it did not feature a placebo control. Without a placebo, other factors relating to the patient’s care responsible for the positive effects cannot be ruled out. Therefore, it remains unclear to what extent the drug itself was central to their recovery.

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A woman in Seattle, US, holds a bottle of hydroxychloroquine tablets © Reuters / Lindsey Wasson
NHS hospitals try treating Covid-19 with Hydroxychloroquine, anti-malaria drug hotly debated following Trump support

Nausea, acute respiratory failure and liver enzyme elevations were the most common “adverse events” that patients experienced during the trial, although these only occurred in around 10 percent or fewer of the patients. And a broader study involving an additional 5,600 patients, and including patients on ventilators, is now under way at 180 sites worldwide – in the US, the UK, China, Sweden, Italy, Taiwan and others.

Until recently, the greatest hope for a Covid-19 treatment was a drug called hydroxychloroquine. Like Remdesivir, it’s an antiviral drug that was originally developed to treat a different viral disease – on this occasion, malaria. Trials have taken place globally to determine whether it would also be effective against the novel coronavirus. However, after 11 patients given chloroquine in a clinical trial in Brazil died, the trial was halted early, and the drug began to look like anything but a miracle cure.

Gates’s inner circle

Gilead Science is part of a collective of 15 large pharmaceutical companies brought together by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to find a treatment for Covid-19, dubbed the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. There is a lot of attention focused on Gilead and remdesivir these days, as any potential treatment for Covid-19 that emerges could make a fortune for the company that develops it.

The company’s share price has been up-and-down as information has leaked out about the trials’ progress. Last week, the WHO accidentally released preliminary data from China saying that the trial was terminated early due to the drug having no significant effect, but Gilead said the trial had been inconclusive. Gilead’s stock prices rose by 2.4 percent on Wednesday, in response to the latest positive announcement. But later on Wednesday evening, the WHO refused to comment on Gilead’s trials, saying that further data is needed.

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It is clear that not everyone is convinced yet. Earlier this month, Brian Skorney, an analyst at Robert W. Baird, who covers Gilead Sciences, appeared on CNBC to express his skepticism of remdesivir, mainly stemming from the fact that it was not developed specifically for the new coronavirus. He described hopes that the drug could be used as a therapy for Covid-19 as “wishful thinking.”

The crucial metric for remdesivir’s success will be how much the drug itself is combatting the virus, versus the ordinary standard of care the patient is receiving in hospital. The drug’s effect has yet to be delineated from this, as well as from the effects of the body’s own immune system on the virus. Until the results from the NIAID trial come in in a few weeks, remdesivir’s prospects will remain in major doubt.

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‘Don’t close RAZOR’: Court docs show disgraced FBI agent insisted on pushing Flynn case DESPITE lack of evidence

New DOJ documents pertaining to General Michael Flynn’s case show that the FBI wanted to close a probe of him after finding nothing, only to be overruled by Peter Strzok and the ‘insurance policy’ cabal within the Bureau.

The heavily-redacted documents handed over by the Department of Justice to Flynn’s legal counsel on Wednesday were made public on Thursday as part of a motion to dismiss the case against President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, on grounds of egregious government misconduct.

On the same day the FBI field office declared that it had found “no derogatory information” about Flynn – designated CROSSFIRE RAZOR – and Russia and that he was “no longer a viable candidate as part of the larger Crossfire Hurricane umbrella case” (the FBI probe into alleged Trump campaign “collusion” that became ‘Russiagate’), agent Strzok messaged the case manager urging him not to close the case.

“Don’t close RAZOR,” Strzok urges the official, whose name is redacted, as shown in the transcript of his message logs dated January 4, 2017.

He then texts Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer he was having an affair with, that the case is still open and thanks the FBI’s “utter incompetence” for the delay in closing it. Minutes later, messaging with another FBI official, Strzok mentions the “7th floor” – meaning FBI leadership – is involved with the RAZOR case, and references “DD”, as in Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

McCabe is the “Andy” in whose office Strzok and Page discussed the “insurance policy” in the summer of 2016, in the unlikely case Trump – whom they despised, as evidenced by numerous other texts that have emerged – gets elected. That discussion took place on August 15, and the FBI opened a probe of Flynn the very next day.

Another previously disclosed exchange between Strzok and Page, discussing Flynn and Logan Act violations, was also dated January 4, 2017. This suggests that they used the pretext of the law dating to the late 1700s – under which no American has ever been prosecuted, which might be unconstitutional, and didn’t apply to Flynn anyway – to justify their “ambush” interview.

Documents revealed on Wednesday show correspondence between Strzok, Page and another FBI official, Bill Priestap, about Flynn – along with a handwritten note suggesting that the goal of the interview may have been “to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”

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FILE PHOTO: Former national security adviser General Michael Flynn
‘Get him to lie so we can prosecute him’: New docs reveal FBI plan to set up General Flynn in perjury trap

Thursday’s release contains emails from Strzok to Priestap about a pretext of a “defensive briefing” to Flynn, and a response from someone (whose name is redacted) to Strzok and Page, saying “I think [redacted] would get to him regardless so we should try to frame them in a way we want.”

What ended up happening is that then-FBI Director James Comey – by his own admission – sent Strzok and another agent to the White House to interview Flynn, who talked to them without an attorney present. They wrote up a memo of the interview (“302”), the first draft of which concluded that he did not lie to them about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 

The Washington Post, however, reported otherwise – and Flynn was fired for allegedly lying to Vice President Mike Pence. Then he was indicted for lying to the FBI by special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, and pleaded guilty when the prosecutors threatened to go after his son.

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Donald Trump and James Comey © Reuters / Jonathan Ernst and Joshua Roberts
‘Dirty cop Comey got caught!’: Trump unloads on FBI after documents reveal effort to set up General Flynn

Trump took the new evidence as a full vindication of Flynn and proof that Strzok, Page, McCabe and Comey were “dirty” cops who sought to illegally spy on his campaign and presidency. All four have since left the Bureau or been fired. Comey’s firing in May 2017 triggered the appointment of Mueller, who after nearly two years could find nothing to substantiate ‘Russiagate’ claims. 

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ONE IN SEVEN Americans would avoid Covid-19 treatment for fear of cost, even as pricey new pill shows promise against virus

Some 14 percent of US adults would forgo medical care for Covid-19 symptoms because they couldn’t pay for it, a new poll has found – yet oblivious health authorities act as if the epidemic will be solved by drugs alone.

One in seven American adults would avoid seeking healthcare if they or a family member experienced symptoms of Covid-19, out of concern they would be unable to afford treatment, according to a Gallup poll published on Tuesday. Even if they specifically believed themselves to be infected with the coronavirus, nine percent would forgo care for financial reasons, the poll found.

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A woman is taken by paramedics from a Chicago Fire Department ambulance into the emergency room at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, U.S., April 21, 2020 © Reuters / Shannon Stapleton
The Covid-19 pandemic exposes deep flaws in America’s broken healthcare system

Their fears are well-founded – the average cost of coronavirus treatment in an intensive care unit runs over $30,000, according to a study released earlier this month by insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans. Even for those who avoid the ICU, American healthcare is the most expensive in the world, and stories of coronavirus patients being whacked with gargantuan medical bills are a dime a dozen two months into the pandemic.

Making matters worse is the unemployment crisis, as about 55 percent of Americans receive healthcare through their jobs. Upwards of 30 million have filed for unemployment in the last five weeks, adding an unprecedented number of families to the ranks of the uninsured – which were already estimated in December to include 27.5 million people, more than the population of Australia. Even those lucky enough to have kept their jobs and insurance may face steep co-pays or other surprise costs.

After a handful of highly-publicized cases in which Americans died of the virus after being turned away by hospitals for lack of money, President Donald Trump ordered hospitals to pay for the cost of Covid-19 treatment, and several large insurers promised at the beginning of the month to waive all co-pays for coronavirus testing for 60 days. However, those coverage pledges do not include other costs associated with hospitalization, like ambulance transportation; outpatient treatment; or treatment for non-Covid-19 patients. Individuals seeking treatment have been tested and received the good news that they don’t have the virus – only to be hit shortly thereafter with the bad news that they’re on the hook for thousands of dollars in costs.

Low-income respondents were much more likely to report they would not seek care for financial reasons. Perhaps more troublingly, respondents with annual income under $40,000 were almost four times as likely as those with incomes over $100,000 to report that they or a family member had been turned away from a hospital for reasons related to overcrowding or high patient volume, the Gallup poll found.

While a study of the experimental drug remdesivir as a treatment for Covid-19 published positive preliminary results on Wednesday, such treatment is likely to remain just as far out of reach as existing coronavirus care for many patients. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, nevertheless cheered the results, declaring the trial had “proven” that “a drug can block this virus.”

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US is at a critical juncture, facing TWO EPIDEMICS: Covid-19 & soaring joblessness

Absent from his victory dance was the fine print that Gilead, the company that owns remdesivir, has been skewered in the past for drug-profiteering, tripling the price of a pill it purchased to treat hepatitis C and charging $2,000 per month for the HIV drug Truvada, which costs $6 per pill to make. Gilead only reversed course on its mission to lock down its patent on remdesivir by securing “orphan drug” status – a coveted designation that bars competitors from developing cheaper generic versions for seven years – after the Food and Drug Administration had already granted the status, triggering tremendous public criticism.

Gilead has tried to combat the bad PR by promising to donate 1.5 million doses of the drug to clinical trials, “compassionate use,” and other programs, but it has refused to commit to making remdesivir affordable. Until it does, all the positive test results in the world may not make a difference to the poorest and most vulnerable patients in the US.

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Libya’s UN-recognized govt rejects rival Haftar’s offer of Ramadan truce

The Tripoli-based government of Libya has rejected a truce offer from rival military commander Khalifa Haftar for the month of Ramadan, saying it “did not trust” the pledge made by its eastern-based adversary. 

In a statement issued Thursday, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) insisted it would continue “legitimate self-defense” and would attack “any threat.” It also apparently referenced Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), saying it would “put an end to outlaw groups.”

The LNA, which controls swathes of eastern and southern Libya, launched an offensive to seize the capital Tripoli in April last year. On Wednesday, it announced a ceasefire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, adding that the temporary cessation of violence came at the request of the international community and “friendly countries.” The LNA spokesperson also said that any truce violations by the GNA would be met with an “immediate and harsh response.”

Libya has suffered almost a decade of major political and military upheaval, after the US-led NATO operation in 2011, which ousted long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi, sent the country spiraling into civil war.

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