Haftar’s forces claim air strike on Tripoli suburb as Libya crisis escalates

08 April, 2019, 00:15 | Author: Gerard Cortez
  • A spokesman said eastern Libyan forces seized the Tripoli International Airport seen from the front on Friday

A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.

Anti-government forces led by Haftar earlier said they had been targeted by an air strike about 50 kilometres south of Tripoli.

Salame was speaking to reporters in Tripoli a day after Khalifa Haftar's forces said they had advanced into the capital's southern outskirts and taken its former worldwide airport.

The country has been struggling to counter civil unrest since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Hafter's media office said in a post online that they took full control of the Tripoli worldwide airport and were working to secure the facility. "Libya will always be a civilian state and the army will protect it and secure the people", he said, adding that a joint command headquarters was set up to coordinate the military efforts.

In another sign of the situation worsening on the ground, a contingent of United States forces evacuated the country for security reasons.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his visit to Ain Zara Detention center in Tripoli, Libya.

Haftar must heed global warnings to halt his advance on Libya's capital, Italy's foreign minister said, as powers from the G7 club said there could be no military solution to the country's power struggle.

Pro-Haftar fighters have been slowed in their advance by forces loyal to Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in the capital.

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The UN Mission to Libya today for a truce for two hours in southern Tripoli to evacuate civilians and wounded, it said in a statement without giving details.

"We were stabbed in the back", he said Saturday in televised comments, adding that his forces would confront Hifter's troops with "force and determination". Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for Hifter's forces, said Saturday that 14 troops had been killed since the offensive began.

Fighting was underway Sunday at the global airport, some 24 kilometres from central Tripoli, after Hifter claimed to have seized the area.

Fresh fighting has flared near the Libyan capital, Tripoli, between pro-government forces and rebel fighters from the east of the country.

The UN-backed government in Tripoli called their presence a "violation" of Libya's sovereignty.

"They (the council) called on LNA forces to halt all military movements", said German UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, president of the council for April, reading a statement agreed by the body after it was briefed behind closed doors on the latest developments.

In the past, Haftar has struck deals with armed factions outside Tripoli to advance his forces.

Hifter's forces have sparked fears of a major showdown with the militias.

Both countries have provided support to Gen Haftar.

There was no immediate statement from the United Nations -backed government, the militias that support it, or the United Nations.

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