Libya's UN-backed government calls airport airstrike a 'war crime'

10 April, 2019, 07:33 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Forces loyal to Libya's UN-backed unity government guard Tajura a coastal suburb of the Libyan capital Tripoli

At present, there are two competing governments in Libya, the UN-recognized one in Tripoli and another in the eastern city of Tobruk, under the control of military commander Khalifa Haftar.

The LNA said on Monday that 19 of its soldiers had been killed in recent days.

The Libyan National Army forces, led by Haftar, have been seeking to reach the centre of the capital Tripoli after they have easily advanced through the desert and reached urban areas that form a more hard stage for them, amid increasing numbers of deaths and displacement and the West's fears that this will threaten its peace plan.

Witnesses said the LNA had lost control of the old airport and withdrawn from positions on the airport road.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in NY on Monday that "unfortunately" the United Nations received "no positive news" in response to its urgent appeal for a truce in Tripoli.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Libya, Maria do Valle Ribeiro, said the clashes have also worsened the situation for migrants held in detention centers in Tripoli, she warned.

Since Thursday, clashes have broken out in a number of areas on the outskirts of Tripoli, including at the disused global airport on the city's southern edge.

Unity government health minister A'hmid Omar told Libya's Al-Ahrar television station late Sunday that around 50 people had been wounded along with those killed.

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Its elite force, Saiqa (Lightning), numbers some 3,500, while Haftar's sons also have well-equipped troops, LNA sources say. At least two doctors are among the dead, while more than 180 others have been injured.

On Sunday, April 7, Russian Federation blocked proposals for the council to adopt a formal statement, instead insisting that all Libyan forces be urged to stop fighting, diplomats said.

United Nations special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame condemned the attack on Tripoli's only functioning airport, saying the United Nations was "deeply concerned for the welfare of the civilian population in the ongoing violence".

A United Nations -sponsored peace conference, scheduled to start on Sunday in the southwestern town of Ghadames, was postponed by envoy Ghassan Salame, who said he was working to hold the meeting "as soon as possible".

Salame later Monday condemned the attack on Mitiga, saying it was "a serious violation of worldwide humanitarian law".

The press conference was broadcast by Arab and Libyan television channels.

Since Gahdafi's ouster, Libya has been governed by rival authorities in the east and in Tripoli, in the west, each backed by various militias and armed groups fighting over resources and territory.

Forces allied to the Tripoli administration were seen inside the airport, while clashes with the eastern forces were raging south of the airport, a Reuters reporter at the scene and residents said.

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