After a wave of rumors about the health of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, the Middle East Eye reported on Wednesday that his health has severely deteriorated and he is suffering from irreversible brain damage.
"Haftar is suffering from lung cancer, which has spread to his brain," a EU diplomat said, adding, "The doctor treating him says that even if he responds partially to treatment, it will be temporarily, and he will never be normal again,"
Haftar, whose forces control much of eastern Libya, home to some of the country's biggest oilfields, was in hospital in Paris last week after falling ill during a trip abroad, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). The strongman has not made any public appearances in the past two weeks, and social media has been abuzz with rumors.
After several denials, his self-styled Libyan National Army acknowledged Friday that Haftar had been hospitalized but was "in good health." Libya has been gripped by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, with rival administrations and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.
Last summer, Haftar announced the "total liberation" of Benghazi, after a three-year campaign to seize the city. His rivals accuse him of wanting to establish a new military dictatorship in Libya. Haftar supports a parliament based in the east of the country, while a U.N.-backed unity government in the capital Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority nationwide.