Battle rages for Tripoli airport as rebel troops march on

08 April, 2019, 00:12 | Author: Frank Williams
  • Guterres centre leaves the airport in Benghazi Libya on April 5

Libya will always be a civilian state and the army will protect it and secure the people.' he said.

UNSMIL urged a truce to transport the wounded to safety, it said, without giving casualty figures.

An air strike on the southern part of Tripoli was confirmed by a witness who spoke to Reuters.

The multi-pronged operation, dubbed Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage), has already led to the capture of many military vehicles of Haftar's National Libyan Army, military spokesman Mohammed Gununu said.

The UN Security Council on Friday called on Haftar to halt his advance on Tripoli, warning the military move was putting Libya's stability at risk.

The American troop withdrawal was followed by an announcement by Libya's Tripoli-based interim government that it had launched a "counter offensive" to defend the capital, reported France's Agence France-Presse news agency.

"The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable", said Africom commander General Thomas Waldhauser. The airport was destroyed in a previous bout of militia fighting in 2014. They posted photos of troops apparently inside the airport, saying "we are standing at the heart of the Tripoli worldwide airport".

Prime Minister al-Serraj said his government had "extended our hands towards peace" while Gen Haftar had declared a coup. "We were stabbed in the back", he said, adding that his forces would confront Hafter's troops with "force and determination".

Forces in Misrata are mostly loyal to the country's government.

Hifter'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.

In another sign of the situation worsening on the ground, a contingent of USA forces evacuated the country for security reasons. He said five of his troops were killed.

The development came as United Nations chief Antonio Guterres met Haftar in failed talks and left Libya with a "heavy heart".

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

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"We are closely following the situation in Libya", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

TRT World's Craig Vermay reports.

The LNA claims to have reached the southern outskirts and taken its former worldwide airport, though military officials in Tripoli deny this.

"They also called on all forces to de-escalate and halt military activity".

Le Drian said foreign ministers of the G7 broadly agreed on issues during a two-day meeting, but were unable to bridge differences on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how to deal with Iran.

Hifter announced Thursday he was deploying his forces toward Tripoli, sparking fears that the tensions could be escalating out of control as militias from the western cities of Zawiya and Misarata said that they have mobilized to confront Hifter.

Tripoli is the home of Libya's internationally recognised government, which has the backing of the UN.

Antonio Guterres meets with Haftar (R) at Haftar's office in the Rajma military base, 25 kilometers east of Libya's second city of Benghazi.

Rival militias, affiliated with a UN-backed government in Tripoli, said they had also carried out airstrikes, slowing Haftar's advance.

The advance comes despite last minute efforts by the United Nations (U.N.) to quell hostilities in the northern African nation.

Pictures posted on social media of men in military uniform sitting on the ground purported to show some of those taken prisoner, but their authenticity could not immediately be verified.

Both countries have provided support to General Haftar.

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