United States pulls forces from Libya amid fighting near capital

08 April, 2019, 00:14 | Author: Erin Carter
  • Forces allied to the Tripoli-based government check the vehicles which were confiscated from Haftar's troops in Zawiya

Pro-government forces in Tripoli confirmed they had targeted Haftar's men with "intensive strikes".

Speaking in Egypt, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned against what he called foreign meddling in Libya, while Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said Libya's problems could not be solved by military means.

It is the latest stage of a four-day offensive by Haftar's force, which backs a rival administration in the east, against the home of the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

The UN made an "urgent" appeal on Sunday for a two-hour truce in the southern suburbs of Tripoli to evacuate wounded and civilians as Libyan forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar pushed to take the capital.

The offensive intensifies a power struggle that has fractured the oil and gas producer since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Rivalries between the two camps threaten to plunge the country into a full-blown civil war after Haftar on Thursday launched an offensive on Tripoli.

The air strikes came as fresh fighting flared Saturday south of Tripoli between the pro-government forces and Haftar's troops despite calls from the worldwide community to halt the military offensive.

Tripoli denied Haftar was part of the Libyan army, and he languished in jail until Washington granted him political asylum.

The sudden offensive against Tripoli by Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar has taken pro-government forces and the worldwide community by surprise. There is fighting in Tripoli.

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The Indian ambassador in Tunisia has the concurrent charge of Libya as well and the CPRF contingent was deployed as part of a peace-keeping force in Tripoli, the minister added in a subsequent tweet.

"We strongly oppose any military action in Libya", the statement read, reiterating their support for UN-led efforts to bring elections and calling on all countries to support the "sustainable stabilisation of Libya".

Armed groups allied to the Tripoli government have moved more machinegun-mounted pickup trucks from Misrata to Tripoli to defend it against Haftar's forces.

A similar stance was taken by the UN Security Council which, following a closed-door emergency meeting Friday, said those responsible for re-igniting the conflict will be held responsible.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) forces headed by Colonel Khalifa Haftar launched an air strike in southern Tripoli on Sunday, according to witnesses and various wire agencies.

The UN has declared that the gathering will go on as planned. It answers to the authorities based in eastern Libya, who are at odds with the UN-backed government.

United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame said on Saturday that the conference planned for 14-16 April would still be held in time, despite the escalation - "unless compelling circumstances force us not to".

Haftar´s offensive came as United Nations chief Antonio Guterres visited Libya Thursday days ahead of a planned UN-backed conference aimed at uniting Libya´s rivals and paving the way for elections.

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