Published: Wed, April 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Pro-Haftar forces target Libya's Tripoli airport

Pro-Haftar forces target Libya's Tripoli airport

A contingent of US forces was earlier evacuated.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, Maria Ribeiro, said Monday the fighting had displaced more than 2,800 people, blocked rescuers from reaching casualties and damaged electricity lines.

The same official said militias from the coastal towns of Misrata and Zawia - which are not under the GNA's direct control - deployed troops to the capital as part of the counter-offensive against the LNA.

Last Thursday, conflict erupted after the Libyan National Army (LNA), a proxy government led by General Khalifa Haftar, launched a military offensive against the UN-backed government in Tripoli, the Government of National Accord (GNA).

At least 32 people have been killed and around 50 wounded in fighting, said the GNA.

"Passengers have been asked to evacuate the Mitiga airport after Haftar's aircraft raided the runway", he said, citing sources at the facility.

The government based in Tripoli now enjoys worldwide recognition and some Western support, while the government in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk has benefited from the support of Egypt, the Saudis, and the United Arab Emirates.

The death toll continues to rise in Libya, where attacks have killed more than 45 people in the last few days. "The United Nations is deeply concerned for the welfare of the civilian population in the ongoing violence, and of the implications of the attack on the airport", said Salame.

The UN Support Mission in Libya's (UNSMIL) head Ghassan Salame condemned the aerial attack on Mitiga airport in a statement.

The violence has jeopardized a United Nations plan for an April 14-16 conference to plan elections and end anarchy that has prevailed since the Western-backed toppling of Gaddafi.

The European Union joined the United Nations, United States and G7 bloc in calling for a ceasefire, a halt to Haftar's advance and return to political negotiations.

Spokesman Colonel Mohamed Gnounou said it was aimed at "purging all Libyan cities of aggressor and illegitimate forces", in reference to Haftar's fighters.

Haftar casts himself as a foe of extremism but is viewed by opponents as a new dictator in the mould of Gaddafi, whose 40 years rule saw torture, disappearances and assassinations.

Eight years later, Libya is still living with the instability and violence that resulted from USA -backed regime change made possible by Western intervention.

France established close relations with Mr Haftar under the Socialist government of former President Francois Hollande and his defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The US military is among those to withdraw its supporting forces based in the country, blaming the "complex and unpredictable" situation and "increased unrest" on the ground.

France's stance has created tensions with Italy, which has sought a leading role to end the turmoil in its former colony.

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