Cairo: Libya’s powerful commander Khalifa Haftar arrived Thursday evening in the eastern city of Benghazi, weeks after he left the country amid speculation about his health.
His plane landed at Benghazi’s Bnena airport where he was welcomed by army commanders, senior officials and tribal chiefs.
The 75-year-old chief of the Libyan National Army, wearing a Western-style suit, looked in good health in a live television broadcast of his arrival.
In mid-April, an aide to Haftar said he was in Paris for “normal checkups” due to an unspecified illness.
Haftar Thursday flew into Benghazi from Cairo where he reportedly spent two days after his return from France.
The Libyan army accused the Muslim Brotherhood of leading a “fierce media and political battle” against Haftar by spreading fake news about him.
The army added in a statement that Benghazi will celebrate Haftar’s return, calling him a “hero”, who saved the city from militants.
Hundreds of people took to Benghazi’s streets in celebration of Haftar’s return, Libyan media reported. Some of them shot celebratory gunfire in the air.
There have been conflicting reports about Haftar’s health, with some claiming he had suffered a stroke, or a lung disorder, which allegedly prompted his hospitalization to France.
Since 2014, Haftar has spearheaded a relentless campaign against militants first in Benghazi and later in other parts of the country. He has since established a clout and expanded territorial control in Libya.
The North African country has been in the grip of violent anarchy and political feud since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 armed revolt.